CALIFORNIA, USA — With Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) shutting off power to millions of customers in an attempt to prevent more deadly and destructive wildfires, you might be wondering how you can best prepare for and survive a power outage.
Here is our survival guide for power shutoffs--what to do before and during an outage:
What to do before a shutoff
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!
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.
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The deadliest fire in California history was started by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the nation’s largest electric utility. PG&E enjoys a state-sanctioned monopoly that never expires, despite the fact that PG&E, the company, is a convicted federal felon. What happens when 16 million people have no choice but to buy their power from a criminal corporation? And why can’t anyone seem to make the company clean up its act?