It's not new news about the horrible fires that are currently ravaging parts of California. As those fires unfortunately spread, certain precautions must be made to make sure there isn't more damage done that can be avoided. For PG&E (a unit of Pacific Gas & Electric Co.), public safety is taken very seriously, and many shutoffs need to happen to protect the public during times of disaster (i.e., the notorious Camp Fire). This precautionary measure is going to affect millions of Californians across 34 counties, leaving them without power from hours to days. How does one deal with these cutoffs from PG&E? The following will help those who understand what to do before a scheduled cutoff of power takes place and what to expect during.
California is no stranger to natural disasters, it seems, so it's essential to have an emergency kit/bag ready for specific unexpected scenarios. These kits can come in especially handy while experiencing an extended-lasting power outage in a fire-prone area. The essential items that should be included in the said kit are water and nonperishable food items. There should be enough to last up to a week and extra water for showers and if the plumbing is not available. This could make the kit/bag bigger than just a grab-and-go type kit, so make sure to keep excess water in a safe place that can be accessed in times of emergency. Keep a cooler near your emergency kit to refrigerated stock items in ice if needed. A refrigerator can only keep things cold for up to 4-5 hours after the power goes out, and that's only if it's kept continuously closed. Freezers have more time before food spoils, giving food a 48-hour shelf life in a closed freezer.
Your cellphone is an essential tool to have on you during times of a power outage, with lists of emergency contacts and the ability to keep up to date with current news updates. Of course, using the phone will use up the battery, and with no power, there is no charging source. Make sure your phone has a full charge before the power cutoff (there should be warnings of the shut off an hour beforehand) as well as any other wireless device that could be useful. It is recommended to purchase additional batteries/chargeable batteries for any medical items that may need a power source. This can be done for cell phone batteries as well, such as buying multiple power banks to charge before the power is out. This gives you several chances to recharge your phone without the use of an electrical outlet.
If you can venture out during these times and need to purchase gas for generators/vehicles or need to stock up on some extra food, it's crucial to have cash handy. There's no need to go crazy and pull out everything you have in the bank; that's a dangerous and unnecessary idea. Before the cutoff, visit your bank's ATM and take out what you think you may need for a few trips to the gas station and grocery store. Card readers may not work correctly, so having cash saves everyone the hassle and gets you the goods you desire in the time of need. Another tip alongside venturing out while the power is out, be extra cautious on the roads since it's very likely traffic lights will not be working. Exercise your safe driving knowledge and use four-way stops when faced with an intersection.
Once the threats of the nearby fires have subdued, the power will be restored for all those in the affected area. It's not always known how long the power will be out, and this could pose problems for residents, but with an emergency plan, it makes dealing with the outages a bit easier.