With the anticipated planned power outages in California this 2019 fire season (Public Safety Power Shutoffs), there are things California residents can do to be prepared. Power companies have announced that power outages could last up to several days at a time; don’t wait until it’s too late to get ready!
After the past few years of devastating wildfires nationwide, many of which have been caused by power lines, power companies are getting more serious about upping their fire prevention game.
To learn more about this, see Part 1 of this post – How CA Residents can Prepare for PG&E Power Outages in 2019.
This is Part 3 of preparing for extended power outages. This post is all about things you can be doing throughout the duration of fire season, when extended power outages are likely to occur.
1. Have all Things You’ll Want When Power Goes Out
I covered a lot of things in the first post, so DO NOT skip that one! There are several things I mentioned in that post that I am not going to put on this list, because this list is assuming you’ve already taken care of Part 1.
2. Gas in Car
It is a great rule of thumb to keep at least a half tank of gas in your car at all times, for two reasons.
- Getting gas during a power outage can be very difficult; it takes power to pump gas. While some gas stations have transfer switches installed, allowing the pumps to draw energy from backup generators, other gas stations do not. Even if you know of a few gas stations around that can operate during a power outage, the fact that some gas stations will be inoperable, will mean long lines at the pumps of those that are still operating. **Tip: it wouldn’t be a bad idea to find out which gas stations will have the ability to operate during a power outage before it happens.
- The chances of the need to evacuate definitely increase during fire season, and you DO NOT want to have to stop at a gas station before leaving town. Imagine the lines…
3. Start Using up Large Quantities of Perishable Food
There is always a chance that power will be out long enough that regardless of what you do, the food in your fridge and freezer will go bad. If you do not plan on getting a generator to power your fridge/freezer, the likelihood of losing your food definitely increases. You may want to consider focusing on eating the food you already have in your fridge and freezer, so you have less food to lose if it comes to that. This is of course a personal decision, but something to think about.
4. Keep Fridge and Freezer Full
Having said what I said in #3, it is important to realize that the less full a fridge/freezer is, the faster your food goes bad in the event of a power outage. So if you do decide to try to use up some food that you already have, be sure to fill that empty space with ice. This doesn’t have to be fancy; it can be as simple as filling an empty 2-liter bottle or gallon ice cream bucket with water and sticking it in the empty spot in your freezer. The goal is to always have a full fridge and freezer.
5. Turn Down Fridge and Freezer Temperatures
I always have our freezer down as low as it can go and our fridge down as low as it can go without freezing our lettuce. The colder they start out, the longer they’ll stay below 40 degrees, which is the magical number that draws the line between safe and unsafe food.
You will want to “discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or leftovers) that has been at temperatures above 40° F for 2 hours or more (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90º F).”(https://www.fda.gov/media/72124/download)
6. Keep up on any household chores that require power
While this one may seem trivial, I can assure you it can make the difference between sanity and complete misery. It is amazing what keeping up on your laundry, dishes, and vacuuming can do for your morale when you are on day 3 or 4 with no power.
Imagine having a sink full of dishes, overflowing laundry baskets, and an entire house in desperate need of vacuuming when your power goes out for a week. That’s not a very good way to start a lengthy power outage. Since we aren’t sure how much of a heads up we will be given before the power goes out, it would be a good idea to stay on top of your laundry, dishes, and other household things that require energy.
7. Keep Things Charged
Keep things at full charge as often as possible…especially external chargers!
8. Ensure Generator is Ready for Use
- If you do have a generator, take the time to do a trial run and make sure you know how to use it (including starting it)!
- Make sure you are stocked up with fuel to run it.
- Make sure you have the necessary extension cords, transfer switches, etc.
For an extra resource, see Essential Items to Purchase to Prepare for Power Outages.