When the lights go out, are you ready?
California continues to deal with longer, hotter summers as well as
growing threat of wildfires as a result of climate change, everyone
living in our state should take steps now to prepare themselves and
their families for events like a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) or
events may leave many Californians without power for hours and in some
cases days. Moreover, other natural disasters like earthquakes, floods,
cyber attacks and wildfires also have the potential to disrupt power
for long periods of time.
Power outages can impact the whole community and the economy by:
- Disrupting communications, water, gas and transportation.
- Closing retail businesses, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs, banks, and other services.
- Causing food spoilage and water contamination.
- Preventing use of medical devices.
There are, however, many ways you can prepare for these events to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Preparing for a Power Outage
inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity. Plan for
batteries and other alternative power sources to meet your needs when
the power goes out, such as a portable charger or power bank. Have
flashlights for every household member. Determine whether your home
phone will work in a power outage and how long battery backup will
last. If possible, keep vehicles fully gassed and have cash on hand if
ATM’s are unavailable.
Conserve Energy When Called Upon
extreme heat events, California’s power grid operator may predict h
increased demand for electricity that exceeds grid capacity. During
these times, called Flex Alerts,” consumers are urged to conserve
electricity, especially during the late afternoon and early evening,
when the grid is most stressed due to higher demand and solar energy
The following conservation measures can help the power grid during a time of tight demand and supply:
- Before 3 p.m.,
“pre-cool” buildings by setting air conditioning thermostats lower than
usual; also, charge electronic devices and electric vehicles; and run
dishwashers, washers and dryers and other major appliances.
- After 3 p.m., set thermostat at 78° or higher
- Cool with fans and draw drapes
- Turn off unnecessary lights and defer use of appliances
Know Your Medical Needs
to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices
powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines. Know how long your
medications can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific
guidance for any medications that are critical for life.
enough nonperishable food and water for every member of your household
for three days. Open freezers and refrigerators only when necessary.
Your refrigerator can keep food cold for four hours. A full freezer
will maintain temperature for two days. Use coolers with ice if
necessary. Monitor temperatures with a thermometer. Throw out food if
temperatures reach 40 degrees or higher.
Using Appliances During Power Outages
avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, install carbon monoxide detectors with
battery backup in central locations on every level of your home.
Generators, camp stoves and grills should always be used outdoors and
at least 20 feet from windows. Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat
your home. Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment, or
electronics. Power may return with momentary surges or spikes that can
Returning After A Power Outage
away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or
higher for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color or
texture. If the power is out for more than a day, discard any
medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says
otherwise. Consult your doctor or pharmacist immediately for a new
For more tips on preparing for a Power Outage, visit flexalert.ca.gov