SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The 2018 wildfire season was the most deadly in California history. And the hot and dry predictions we're seeing for Summer 2019 mean that everyone must prepare ahead of time to stay safe.
Unfortunately for Northern Californians, that means power may be cut as PG&E begins it's "Public Safety Power Shutoff" plan.
If there is extreme fire danger in an area - like gusty winds and dry heat, PG&E's plan for power shutoffs will go into effect. Because of the checks and safety inspections that follow the shutoffs, PG&E said it's possible that thousands of customers could be without power for several days.
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SHUTOFF PROCESS EXPLAINED
STEP 1: PUBLIC SAFETY OWER SHUTOFF
PG&E will cut electricity to avoid events like the Camp Fire - which was sparked by power lines last year. The Camp Fire destroyed much of the city of Paradise and claimed the lives of 85 people.
Each shutoff will be unique, but factors that could lead to a shutoff are:
- High winds and high wind gusts
- Low humidity levels
- Dry vegetation
- Fire threat
- Real-time observations
- Red flag warning
STEP 2: SAFETY INSPECTIONS
Before power can be restored PG&E must complete safety inspections. Here's how the utility outlines that process:
- Once the hazards behind a shutoff has passed and it is safe to inspect, PG&E crews will patrol the area and inspect the electric infrastructure.
- Inspections take place during daylight hours.
In most cases, PG&E expects to be able to restore power within 24 to 48 hours after the extreme weather has passed, though weather conditions or repairs may impact restoration times.
HOW TO PREPARE
City, state and county officials stress that preparation is the most important part of this process.
Understanding that there are customers with medical needs who rely on power, PG&E is urging that people take steps to have a place to go and buy backup batteries or generators. For tips on how to prepare for medical needs for you or a loved one, please click here.
In addition, the utility recommends that customers do the following:
- Update your contact information with PG&E at pge.com/mywildfirealerts or via phone at 1-866-7436589 during normal business hours.
- Have a personal safety plan and review your emergency kits - make sure to have flashlights, batteries, cash and first aid supplies.
- Plan for medical needs ahead of the power shutoff.
- Plan for backup charging methods for phones and keep hard copies of emergency numbers.
- Check in with young or elderly family members and don't forget about pets.
Outage map - Gives a live look at outages across PG&E coverage area.
Address checker - Ahead of a shutoff, customers can type in their address to see if they will be affected.