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PG&E power shutoff | Tips to get through a power outage

With PG&E power shutoffs on the horizon, here is how to best prepare your family for outlasting an outage.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announced on Monday it is considering a Public Safety Power Shutoff due to strong, dry winds and intense heat.

For some customers in parts of 21 California counties, this will mean planned power outages as PG&E works to avoid more deadly and destructive wildfires during what is already a historic fire season. 

If you are wondering how you can best prepare for a power outage in your area, there are some easy life hacks you can take before and during an outage to make sure you and your family stay completely safe throughout the entirety of the event. 

Here are some tips for power shutoffs:

What to do before a shutoff

  • Stock water. Aim for one gallon per person per day for up to a week. Humans can survive without water for only 3 days. Don't forget about water for your pets!
  • Change the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is a major concern during power outages. Stay safe by making sure your detector is working properly.
  • Talk to your doctor. Do you use medical devices powered by electricity for which you will need an alternative or generator? Have medication that needs refrigeration? Talk to a medical professional about how long those medications can be stored at high temperatures and what to do in the event of an outage.
  • Gas up the car. Gas stations run on electricity, so if there's a need to drive somewhere, you don't want to have to rely on finding an operational gas station.
  • Buy a portable charger. Keeping your phone charged in an outage can be a life-saver. Make sure that the portable charger is fully charged as well!
  • Think sanitation. With the power out, you likely won't have running water. Stock up on extra wipes, tissues, toilet paper, and feminine hygiene products.
    Sign up for local alerts and PG&E (or your electricity provider's) warning systems. Make sure your address and phone number are correct to receive the most updated information directly from the source.
  • Buy plenty of nonperishable foods. Go for canned or boxed foods that don’t need to be heated, such as canned fruit, beans, veggies and cereals.
    Keep a flashlight handy. Trust us, you'll need it.
    If you're thinking you can get away with using your phone's flashlight, think again. You'll want to conserve your phone battery as much as possible.
  • Prepare to evacuate. Evacuations are much more likely during winter months, when freezing temperatures can make a house uninhabitable. You can prepare by packing a "go bag" with important documents, clothing, and a first-aid kit.
  • Don't forget about your pets! If it's not safe for you, it's not safe for them. Have a plan in place for their care throughout the shutoff and if you need to evacuate.

What to do during a shutoff

  • Unplug and switch off everything that runs on electricity. Power outages lead to power surges once power is switched back on. This can destroy your electronics if you don't take the necessary precautions.
  • Check in with your neighbors. Older adults and young children are especially vulnerable in a power outage. Neither do well in extreme temperatures and the elderly may need medical assistance.
  • Keep food cold; keep the fridge and freezer closed. In most freezers, food will stay frozen for one to three days and below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for another couple of days. Throw out food if the temperature reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If in doubt, just throw it out!
  • Recharge with your car. When it’s time to recharge your phone in a power outage, don’t forget your car. If you have a car charger, the battery holds plenty of power to charge mobile devices. Just be aware of not letting your car run for too long.
  • Turn off all lights, except one inside and one outside. This way, both you and the electricity crews outside know when power is restored.
  • Be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas and it can sicken or kill people during power outages. Only use generators outdoors and away from windows. Do not use a gas stove to heat your home. Make sure your carbon monoxide detector is working.