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Fire Department Offers Tips on How to Prepare for a PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff

Post Date:10/09/2019

With a planned Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) occurring in Northern California, the City of San Luis Obispo is encouraging the community to take the necessary steps to prepare for such an event should planned electric power outages occur in the City of San Luis Obispo. 

“We have been in communication with PG&E and do not anticipate any planned electric outages in San Luis Obispo at this time,” said Fire Chief Keith Aggson. “However, given the continued and growing threat of extreme weather and wildfires, we believe it is important to let our community know the city has a plan in place and that everyone should take the time now to prepare.” 

The City has taken steps to prepare each department for the impacts of a multi-day power outage, including the addition of emergency power generators placed at critical infrastructure such as lift stations and water pump stations. 

Community members are encouraged to also take necessary steps to prepare for such an event to ensure the health and safety of their household. Here are some tips to get ready for possibly widespread outages:

  1. Know if your area could be on the cut-off list. You can find a map of the affected area at http://critweb-outage.pgealerts.com/
  2. Set up an emergency plan with friends and family. Preparing for a power shutoff is a bit like preparing for an earthquake: with electricity off, everything from using your landline to keeping your house lit at night to opening or closing your garage door can suddenly become a lot more complicated. For that reason, you should plan NOW, so you’ll be ready if the power goes out.
  3. Where to start. Having a disaster preparedness kit is critical first start. This includes food and water for all family members and pets. A valuable site for preparedness information is the City Fire Department website where you will find a variety of informational bulletins regarding safety and preparedness, including PSPS, Generator and Food Safety.
  4. Act. Basic actions such as charging your mobile-phone batteries, charging your electric vehicle, of if gas/diesel fuel your vehicle. Know how to manually open your garage door and communicate your plan with the household.
  5. Medically Baseline. People with medical conditions whose treatment depends on a secure power supply for medical machines, refrigerated medication or powered scooter, should determine a back-up power plan and/or consider moving to an area unaffected by a power outage.
  6. Pay attention to social media. Follow the City of SLO on Facebook, SLO City Fire Department @SLO_City_Fire, and PG&E Twitter @PGE4Me for the latest updates.
  7. Get to know PG&E. Go to www.pgealerts.com now, before a shut off. Once an outage has been reported, you can call PG&E to get a status report and up-to-date information on your outage and time of restoration at 1-800-743-5002. 

“As you prepare for a power outage, please communicate your plan and practice it so that everyone in the household knows what to do,” said Aggson. “A sustained PSPS situation has the potential to create chaos and confusion. Effective disaster preparedness in advance helps alleviate some of the chaos formed by the crisis. It is critical to have a plan in place, and for all in the household to understand their role within the plan.

PG&E has expanded and enhanced their Community Wildfire Safety Program to further reduce wildfire risks.  This includes expanding the Public Safety Power Shutoff program to include all electric lines that pass through high fire-threat areas – both distribution and transmission. 

Conditions such as red-flag warnings, which are a combination of high temperatures, low humidity’s and high winds, could compel PG&E to possibly cut power service in SLO County, including the City. These proposed powers shut offs could be 24 hours to 7 days in length and may take several days to fully restore power after the weather passes and safety inspections are completed.