As California power companies take responsibility for helping to keep our communities safe from the danger of wildfires, we all need to be prepared in the event of a Public Safety Power Shutoff. When vegetation is dry and high winds occur, if a live power line goes down, conditions are ripe for a fire to break out and spread rapidly, putting lives and entire communities in the path of devastation. During extreme weather conditions, especially during periods of high wind, power may be turned off for days in order to prevent wildfires from occurring and spreading.
Many people here in California have never experienced a prolonged period without power, and have not had a reason to think about what to do and how to prepare for such an event. Most of us would be able to deal with a power outage of a few hours, but there’s a strong possibility that we need to be prepared for the power being shut off for an extended period of days.
Here are some practical steps you can take right now so you’ll be ready ahead of time when the power goes off.
- Always have a reliable generator by your side. A portable generator is fueled by gasoline or propane, and some models even allow you to switch between fuels. A portable generator can back up a few essentials or almost everything in your home, and should be chosen based on what items you need to power, your preferred fuel, and what features are important to you. A home standby generator must be professionally installed and is connected to your home’s propane or natural gas system, so it never needs to be refueled. When the power goes out, your home standby starts automatically, and when power is restored, it returns to standby.
- Make sure you can open your garage door manually. In case you need to leave your home or evacuate while the power is out, you’ll need to be able to get your vehicle out of the garage. Locate your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer if necessary to get instructions, and practice opening it ahead of time to make sure you can do it successfully. It’s also important to keep plenty of gas in your vehicle’s fuel tank so you’ll be ready to go if you need to.
- If you own a backup generator, make sure it’s operational. It’s important to test your generator periodically to make sure it’s ready to safely provide a source of backup power for you. Don’t forget to review your owner’s manual to make sure you know how to operate your generator safely. If you plan to use a portable generator to back up your power during a Power Shutoff, make sure you have a supply of either gasoline or propane on hand. Check your owner’s manual to learn about the approximate runtime for a tank of fuel to determine how much fuel you should purchase.
- Put together an emergency supply kit. Make sure your first-aid kit is new or replenished with fresh supplies. You’ll also need flashlights, lanterns, a radio, extra batteries, a written out list of emergency phone numbers and contacts, non-perishable food, bottled water, supplies for your pets, and cash.
- Make sure you have backup charging methods for your phone. Purchase additional backup battery phone chargers for yourself and your family so you’ll be able to stay in touch with emergency contacts and reach out for help when you need it.
- Plan ahead for medical devices that rely on power and medications that need to be refrigerated. The medical needs of you and your family are top priority. Keep prescriptions together in an easily accessible location, and keep necessary medications on hand. If you have medications that require refrigeration, or medical devices that require power, secure an emergency plan for relocation or an alternative source of backup power. For emergency lifesaving medical devices, it’s important to follow the ADA Emergency Power Planning Factsheet and contact your local power company to inform them of your needs and discuss the available options.
Although power companies plan to send out an alert to customers when the power is about to be shut off, it may not always be possible depending on weather conditions. Since we’re based in California, all of us here at Champion Power Equipment are preparing our homes and families for this challenge right along with you. Our team is available to provide the support you need and answer your questions as you make plans to secure a safe source of backup power. If we take the time and make the effort now to prepare our homes and our families, we can face a Power Shutoff together with confidence and peace of mind. For more information and helpful resources, please visit the official California Public Safety Power Shutoff website at www.prepareforpowerdown.com.