Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric customers are advised to prepare for a power outage that could last up to five days if the power companies were to call for a Public Safety Power Shutoff.
Earlier this week, the city of Goleta sent a message to residents to ensure they are ready for a shutdown, which would last as long as dangerous weather conditions exist. The notice came after thousands in the Goleta area were left without power for a time Monday night.
In preparation of a shutdown, residents are reminded to plan for their medical needs – including having backup power for electric medical devices and refrigerated medicine, as well as extra critical medications and copies of prescriptions.
They are also advised to plan for the needs of pets and livestock, including providing enough food, water and medications for multiple days. Residents should also prepare or restock emergency kits with flashlights, batteries, first aid supplies, non-perishable food, important documents and cash. The use of candles is not recommended because they can increase the risk of fire, officials said.
Residents are urged to purchase backup chargers for cell phones and to keep their car gas tank full. Those who own a generator should be sure it is ready to safely operate.
Residents are reminded to unplug or turn off electric appliances to avoid overloading circuits and prevent fire hazards when power is restored. Those with electric garage doors should know how to manually open and close the door.
Residents can purchase a hand crank or solar-powered radio to help stay informed. For a list of radio stations broadcasting during emergencies, go to readysbc.org/storm-ready/radio-ready.
Residents are also advised to update their contact information with their power company to receive notifications. Those with an electrical medical device can also sign up with their utility’s “Medical Baseline Program” so the utility company is aware of their device. Edison customers can call 800-655-4555 or visit www.sce.com/psps. Pacific Gas & Electric customers can call 800-866-743-6589 or visit www.pge.com/wildfiresafety.
Edison officials will “proactively turn off power in high fire risk areas to reduce the threat of wildfires,” the company website states. “Turning off our customers’ power is not something we take lightly, but PSPS events are one of the ways we can better ensure the safety of the public, our customers, and our employees.”
When extreme weather is forecast, Edison officials will assess the potential impact to affected areas. Officials will analyze historical data to help predict the likelihood of a wildfire occurring, closely monitor weather watch alerts from the National Weather Service and place incident responders on alert.
The first notification from Edison for a PSPS would come two days before the shutdown. A second notification will be sent out if “extreme fire conditions are imminent.” The second notification may be the last notification sent if power will not be shut off, officials said.
A third notification would be sent out to affected customers if or when extreme fire conditions are confirmed. When weather conditions return to safer levels, the Edison field teams will ensure that power can safely be restored and notify customers of the power restoration.
“There may be situations which prevent SCE from providing advance notice,” the company said on its website. “The actual onset of extreme fire weather conditions and other circumstances beyond our control may impact coordination and notification efforts.”
PG&E customers will be notified as early as 48 hours before electricity is turned off. Notices may also be sent 24 hours or immediately before electricity is shutdown.
“Due to the focus on safety, the shutoff notification will be sent at any time, day or night,” the power company website states. “However, extreme weather threats can change quickly, and there may be some instances when notifications may be sent outside of those hours in the interest of safety.”
PG&E will send out notifications during the power outage and after power has been restored.
Residents are reminded to register for emergency alerts from the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management at readysbc.org. Emergency information can also be received from the city of Goleta by visiting tinyurl.com/goletaemergency, texting “Goleta Emergency” to 468311 or by calling 961-7508.