As Californians across the state continue to weather severe storms and high temperatures, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) reminds all residents that they can take steps to prepare themselves and their families for events like a Flex Alert, Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), rolling blackouts and extreme heat.
Such events may leave many Californians without power for hours or even days, in some instances. In addition, other disasters like earthquakes, floods, cyber attacks and wildfires also have the potential to disrupt power for long periods of time.
Cal OES urges individuals and families to prepare ahead of time for these events and to help protect at risk individuals in their communities.
Power outages can impact communities and public infrastructures 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.
Preparing for a Power Outage
Take 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
During extreme heat events, California’s power grid operator may forecast an 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 production falling.
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
Talk 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.
Portable back-up generators produce the poison gas carbon monoxide (CO). CO is an odorless, colorless gas that kills without warning. It claims the lives of hundreds of people every year and makes thousands more ill. Follow these steps to keep your family safe.
When using Portable Generators
- Never use a generator inside your home or garage, even if doors and windows are open.
- Only use generators outside, more than 20 feet away from your home, doors, and windows.
- Install battery-operated or battery back-up CO detectors near every sleeping area in your home.
- Check CO detectors regularly to be sure they are functioning properly.
Have 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
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 cause damage.
Returning After A Power Outage
Throw 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 supply.
For more tips on preparing for a power outage, visit https://www.ready.gov/power-outages