(BPT) - During extreme weather conditions and when threat of danger from wildfires is imminent, California utility companies make a determination whether to temporarily shut off power in specific areas to protect public safety and prevent an increase in dangerous conditions. Southern California Edison (SCE), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) will be monitoring local fire danger and extreme weather conditions to evaluate when a Public Safety Power Shutoff might be necessary this season.
Conditions leading to a potential power shutoff by your energy company may include high winds (including Red Flag warnings declared by the National Weather Service), very low humidity, dry vegetation that could serve as fuel for a wildfire, fire threats to the electric infrastructure and on-the-ground observations about severe weather and safety conditions. If a public safety risk is assessed, customers will be notified by alerts before the power shutoff, and energy companies will provide ongoing updates using local news outlets, their websites and social media.
Because power outages could last anywhere from several hours to several days, all families should set up an emergency plan in case of a shutoff.
What can you and your family do to prepare? Here are a few steps you can take to ensure your comfort — and most importantly, safety — during an emergency power shutoff.
Update contact information.
Make sure everyone has everyone else’s updated contact information, and not just on electronic devices. Keep copies of everyone’s contact information handy in writing as well, in case internet connections are interrupted by power outages wherever you may be. Also make sure that your energy company has your updated contact information, so you will receive timely alerts and updates.
Invest in a standby home generator.
While you may be more familiar with small, portable generators on wheels that can be used for tailgating or powering tools on job sites, larger home units such as Kohler residential generators are installed outside your home, similar to an air conditioning unit. A standby home generator will come on automatically, whether you’re home or not, within seconds of a power outage, to keep electricity flowing to your home in the event of an emergency. Standby generators run on propane or natural gas from your home’s existing supply, so there’s no need for refueling.
Create or refresh your emergency supply kit.
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Make sure to include some cash, several days' worth of non-perishable food, bottled water, flashlights, a radio, portable phone chargers, new batteries and a well-stocked first aid kit.
Choose alternative locations to meet.
In case of emergency, especially if your home is endangered or there's an evacuation order, everyone should know an agreed-upon location (and secondary choice) to go for safety, such as a friend or relative's home, or a community center that is easily accessible most hours of the day. Make sure everyone knows how to get there if they're on their own.
Practice for an emergency.
Run a drill with your family. Can everyone (on their own) locate the emergency supply kit? Does everyone know how to use the flashlight and radio, and how to change the batteries? Can family members who drive manually open the garage door if needed? Do you have important information in your wallet or purse where you can find it? Does everyone remember where to go if you can't stay in the home?
Each family has unique challenges, so consider your family's needs when developing an emergency preparedness plan. If any family member has medical needs, be sure to have up-to-date medical and prescription information easily accessible. For those who rely on medical technology that requires electricity or batteries such as a wheelchair, home oxygen or other medical equipment, make sure to plan for an extended power outage. If you have household pets, be sure you have done your best to ensure their health and safety during an emergency. Do you have a carrier to transport your pets? Do you have enough pet food to last several days?
Planning for a Public Safety Power Shutoff will give you peace of mind. For more information on how to prepare, visit prepareforpowerdown.com.