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Public Safety Power Shutoff - Wildfire Precaution

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A recent Red Flag Warning issued by the National Weather Service caused an abrupt power outage in Northern California earlier this week. PG & E (Pacific Gas and Electric Co.) turned power off to nearly 50,000 customers between Monday the 23rd to Wednesday the 25th. While performed with good intentions, the outage affected seven counties with little notice.

Why is this Being Performed?

According to information found on PGE’s website, the forced outages are being implemented for public safety. “It may be necessary for us to turn off electricity when gusty winds and dry conditions, combined with a heightened fire risk, are forecasted.”

Now this appears to only affect customers in high fire-threat areas, but the power goliath mentions that any of their 5 million customers have the potential to see outages due to precautionary steps.

This action is a response to the recent findings that determined the cause of California’s 2018 wildfire, was a result of electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

How often will Shutoffs Occur?

While hard to predict, PG & E anticipates several precautionary outages per year. The need for shutoffs will be based on weather conditions; mainly tied to sufficient rain fall, gusty wind activity and higher than normal temperatures.

We recommend referencing the High Fire-Threat District Map, to gauge the likelihood of your area being affected in the future. The current Map can be found below. PGE has tools in place that will notify customers of outages at the earliest point in time.

How to Prepare for a Power Outage:

For the average individual, random forced outages can be a major inconvenience. However, for people with small businesses, elderly and young child dependents, or medical and special needs; these outages can be a very serious. The most important recommended steps to take if you are in one of these high threat areas is as follows:

1. Confirm and update your Contact Information with PG & E.

2. Create a Safety plan for all members of your family and household.

3. Prepare an Emergency Supply Kit.

4. Ensure mobile devices are charged.

5. Ensure your generators are properly maintained and ready for use.

6. Stock up on flashlights, batteries and battery powered or crank radios.

The complete list of these steps can be found on the PGE website.

Preparation and Recommendations

While short outages can be an inconvenience, they are slightly easier to deal with when compared to long term outages. Solar Chargers and Lanterns are a great way to keep your devices charged and your home lit up. Lighthouse Micro USB Rechargeable Lantern and Luci Pro Lux Solar Lamp with Mobile Charging will give you reliable, powerful lighting that can be easily replenished using the power of the sun. For recharging smartphones, we recommend the popular Powertraveller Extreme 12,000 mAh Battery and Solar Panel Kit.

Portable Solar Generators are a great solution to short term outages. The Inergy Apex Silver Linx Lightweight Solar Generator Kitis a great option for continuous operation of mini fridges or short-term operation of energy star refrigerators. The Natures Generator Portable 1800-Watt Solar Generator Kit is perfect for Smartphones, Lights, Tablets, 12V Appliances and Laptops.

If your looking for something with a little more punch, then the Goal Zero Yeti 3000 Lithium Lightweight Solar Generator Kit is a great backup power solution.

Power has recently been returned to most of the affected customers from earlier this week. However, the Power Provider states that Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) could occur at any point in the immediate future. We recommend preparing as best you can to protect your family and loved ones. We hope this article gave you a few ideas on how to prepare for a PG&E power shutoff. As always, we are just a phone call away (877-548-3387) and are happy to offer our expertise on all your Solar and Emergency Preparedness needs!
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