Westar Energy

Preparing for Severe Weather

Tree damage following a June 27th wind storm that left some customers without power for three days.

Are you prepared for a situation where you're without power for several hours or even days?

Often times, when severe storms cause damage, it's a matter of completely rebuilding parts of the electrical system to restore service. These repairs take coordination and many man hours to complete.

The following information will help you prepare for an extended power outage and educate you on how Westar restores power. Send questions or suggestions to: CorpComm@WestarEnergy.com

Reporting power out
Assemble a storm kit and create a family communications plan
Customer responsibilities
How power is restored
How Westar prevents power outages and prepares for storms
Frequently Asked Questions

Reporting power out

  • 1-800 LIGHT KS (1-800 544-4857) is the quickest most efficient way to report a power outage. Save the number to your cell phone.

  • You can also report an outage online. If you have a smart phone, bookmark the link.

  • Don't assume we know your power is out or that your neighbor will report. The more outage reports we receive, the faster we can pinpoint the outage cause and work towards getting power restored.


Assemble a storm kit and create a family communications plan

Assemble a "Storm Kit"

Keep your storm kit centrally located. Your kit should contain items that could help you get by if you are without electricity for several days. A list of items to get you started:

  • Emergency phone numbers

  • Flashlights and fresh batteries

  • Battery-powered or wind-up alarm clock

  • Supply of bottled water (one gallon per person per day)

  • Nonperishable foods that don't require heating

  • Non-electric can opener

  • Blankets, bedding or sleeping bags

  • First-aid kit and medications

  • Tool kit, including wrench to turn off gas or water lines

  • Medicine, personal hygiene and specific family member items

  • A change of clothes can come in handy and don't forget about pet items

Family Communications Plan

  • Develop plans for an extended power outage due to storms, tornadoes or an ice storm.

  • Know where your family will go in an emergency and prepare for different scenarios.

  • Be familiar with locations such as workplaces and schools where family members spend most their time.

  • Keep in mind your family may not be together when disaster strikes.

  • Family member date of birth, social security number, medical information and contact information for out-of-town relatives and friends is important.

Special needs

Include items for infants, the elderly or family members with special needs. Infants and elderly people cannot adjust to cold or extreme heat as well as others and may need to be taken to a relative's or friend's home, shelter or a hotel.

If you depend on electrically powered medical equipment, ask your physician about emergency battery back-up systems. If you are homebound and use life-support equipment not supported by back-up power, you may qualify for Westar Energy's life support service.

Cordless phones and automatic garage door openers require electricity to work. Keep a corded phone as a backup. Learn how to open your garage door manually.

If inclement weather is forecasted, charge your cell phone or consider purchasing a back-up battery.


Customer responsibilities

If you have overhead electrical service, it is common for a tree branch to come down and pull the meter can away from your home during a storm situation. If the meter can has been damaged or pulled away from your home, it must be reattached by a licensed electrician before Westar can restore service.

Westar is responsible for the service line and the meter. The weatherhead, service mast and meter enclosure are electrician responsibilities.

Update your account information

By ensuring that your phone number and other information on your online account is current, you make it easier for us to pinpoint your location in a power outage.

Surge protectors

Purchase equipment with built-in surge protection, battery-powered back-up, or use electrical surge suppressors or arresters. Plug computers and other sensitive equipment into a separate, grounded circuit to isolate them from fluctuations caused when a major appliance restarts (such as a room air conditioner or refrigerator). Consider having a lightning arrester installed at your main circuit panel.

Personal generators

If you choose to use a generator during an extended power outage, do so with caution. If the generator is not hooked up properly it can feed electricity back onto the electrical system, creating an extreme hazard for Westar field employees. Generator safety tips.

Around your home

Turning off major appliances and knowing when to throw food out is important. Power outage tips.


How power is restored

Power outages are repaired by fixing the largest equipment and working our way down. The following is a basic example of how power gets to your home or business.

Westar's goal is to restore service to the largest number of customers as quickly as possible. Restoration is done systematically in the following order (many processes occur simultaneously):

  • As outage reports are received, troubleshooters are sent to investigate and report back the cause of outage and exactly where damage occurred. This is why you may see a Westar truck come into and leave your neighborhood without power being restored. Using this information, work is prioritized.

  • Priority is given to public safety situations such as de-energizing downed lines and critical facilities such as hospitals, police and fire stations and water treatment plants.

  • Transmission lines and distribution substations are repaired first. These lines carry power from generating plants to a large number of customers that cover a wide service area.

  • Major feeder lines that support large subdivisions, industries and businesses.

  • Primary and secondary lines that deliver electricity to smaller neighborhoods and businesses.

  • Transformers and service lines that serve small groups of customers and single services. See illustration below for details.

Power restoration

  • Before restoration begins, crews make sure that power is no longer flowing through downed lines. This prevents injury and the potential for electric shock or possibility for fires.

  • Crews then begin restoring power, removing all hazards, such as tree limbs or other objects that are touching lines. Many times, tree trimming crews must remove vegetation before power can be restored.

  • During a storm it is common for a tree branch to come down and pull the meter can away from your home or business. The meter can must be reattached by a licensed electrician before we can restore service. View customer responsibilities.


How Westar prevents outages and prepares for storms

Preventing power outages

  • Routine tree trimming is the most important thing Westar does to prevent power outages. Many times during severe storms, trees and tree limbs are what come in contact with electrical equipment and disrupt service. This is why ReliabiliTree, our revitalized vegetation management program is all the more important.

  • Westar has a number of other maintenance programs, such as ground line pole inspection, infrared monitoring and fuse coordination that help us prevent outages before they happen.

Storm restoration

  • Every storm restoration presents its own challenges.

  • Westar keeps a close eye on the weather and staffs crews accordingly if inclement weather is forecasted.

  • It is common for us to send crews from other cities and towns throughout our service territory to the area where assistance is needed.

  • If the storm is severe enough, we may open our storm center for crew coordination. These folks take care of lodging, meals, and supplies so that field personnel can concentrate on getting power restored.

  • When we send crews from other cities to assist an area, it is common for employees within that area to fill a different role. For example, because meter readers know their way around local neighborhoods, they will serve as guides to line crews from other areas.

Mutual assistance

  • When damage is severe enough and it's estimated that restoration will take several days, Westar has the option to call upon mutual assistance.

  • Electric utilities have a pact that is unusual, if not unique, that helps us quickly swell our work force in times of need. Mutual aid agreements help utilities keep costs reasonable, they allow utilities to temporarily grow the number of people rebuilding the electrical system and restoring power when circumstances call for it.

  • Westar Energy is a member of the Midwest Mutual Assistance Group. This group allows Westar to call upon neighboring utilities and their contractors for help to restore service in the event of a significant event, such as an ice storm or tornado. In return, Westar will send line and tree crews to assist neighboring utilities when they are in need.

  • When Westar releases crews to assist other utilities, we first release contract line crews and tree trimmers. If the event is significant enough, we may then release our own crews to assist with restoration, keeping in mind the current weather forecast and conditions in our own service territory.

Westar outage communication

During a significant event, such as an ice storm or tornado, Westar will continually update our outage webpage, and social media channels. Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook. Power outages should still be reported to 1-800 LIGHT KS (1-800 544-4857) or through our website.


Frequently Asked Questions

Why doesn't Westar bury overhead power lines

It is extremely expensive, which would drive electricity rates even higher. Underground lines are less susceptible to weather and tree related outages, but when outages occur they usually last longer. In addition, to bury the existing lines would be very disruptive because it would require that we dig up yards, sidewalks and streets.