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Power outages: What you need to know

Unfortunately, PG&E outages are becoming all too familiar for customers throughout the Golden State. A Public Safety Power Shutoff can happen at any time of day or night, due to changing weather conditions. Here’s how to prepare for an outage, and what to do during it, to keep yourself and your family healthy and safe.

Before an outage

  • Confirm or update your contact information with PG&E. PG&E will notify contacts in advance of a shutoff, when possible.
  • Create an emergency plan for all members of your family, including pets. Be sure to identify the unique needs of your family and loved ones when making your plan.
  • Plan for any medical needs like medications that need to be refrigerated or devices that require power.
  • Prepare an emergency supply kit. Include enough water and non-perishable food to last your household one week. Be sure to refresh your kit once a year.
  • Have flashlights available for your household. Avoid using candles.
  • Have a battery-powered or crank radio.
  • Stock up on the right batteries for items you rely on. Include two extra sets in various sizes.
  • Keep cash on hand and a full tank of gas. ATMs and gas stations may not be available during an outage.
  • Fill empty freezer space with ice cubes. Move items from your refrigerator to the freezer if possible.
  • Determine if your landline will work during an outage. Keep a mobile phone as a backup, but note that you may lose cellular service and internet connectivity.
  • Keep mobile phones, external battery chargers and other devices charged. Identify backup charging methods for phones.
  • If you have a generator, make sure it’s ready to operate safely.
  • Learn how to manually open your garage or any other door that operates with electricity.
  • If you live or work in a building that has elevators or electronic key card access, talk with your building manager to understand how they will deal with a possible multi-day outage.

During an outage

  • Unplug or turn off appliances, equipment and electronics to avoid damage caused by surges when the power is restored.
  • Leave a single lamp on to alert you when the power returns. Then, turn your appliances on, one at a time.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Typically, your refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if kept closed. A full freezer will keep its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if only half full). Consider using coolers with ice to keep food cold and safe. If your refrigerator warms to over 40 degrees for two hours or more, discard all perishable foods (e.g. milk, dairy products, meats, fish, poultry, eggs, leftovers, etc.) Refer to USDA food safety guidance.
  • Be sure to use generators, camp stoves or charcoal grills outdoors only. Do not use a gas stove for heat.
  • Check on your neighbors.

Content from PG&E and the USDA.

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