Planned Power Shutoffs
Pacific Gas & Electric may stop electrical service in parts of Contra Costa County during hot, dry, windy weather to reduce the risk of its equipment sparking a wildfire.
Contra Costa County and its partners are working closely with PG&E to keep the public safe and healthy during "Public Safety Power Shutoffs" (PSPS). But some communities may experience outages lasting several days during fire season.
The best way to stay safe is to prepare.
- Make and maintain an emergency supply kit
- Work out a plan to check on friends and family – who's on your list?
- Sign up for alerts from Contra Costa Community Warning System and PG&E
- Arrange to stay elsewhere if possible, especially if you need power for medical devices
PG&E plans to tell local government about a PSPS 24 to 48 hours in advance but may give less warning.
Remember to conserve phone battery power during an outage. Remember also that local cellular service may be disrupted.
How to Prepare
Visit the links below for ideas about what to keep in a home emergency kit.
Any emergency kit should include a three-day supply of non-perishable (no refrigeration) food, medications and drinkable water – one gallon of water per person per day.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- Contra Costa County Office of Emergency Services
- San Francisco Department of Emergency Management
Only use portable generators when it is safe, appropriate and realistic for where you live . Unsafe generator use, such as running one inside the home, can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
The loss of power can also pose serious health and safety issues for swimming pools and spas.
If you rely on electric or battery-dependent medical devices, such as breathing machines, power wheelchairs, home oxygen or dialysis, or if you use medication that must be refrigerated, it is very important to plan for an extended power outage.
Things you can do to prepare:
- Update your contact information with PG&E so they know about your medical device or 1-866-743-6589
- Talk to your doctor about a power outage plan, including getting backup batteries for durable medical equipment
- Teach neighbors or relatives how to use your backup systems and operate your equipment
- Follow FEMA's recommendations in its Power Outage Information Sheet
- Review and update the American with Disabilities Act's Emergency Power Planning Checklist
Call 911 if you have a life-threatening emergency during a power outage.
If you do not have a life-threatening emergency call the non-emergency number for your area, do NOT call 911.
A charged cell phone can dial 911, even without a service plan.
During a power outage, land lines will have service. However, phone lines in many homes now go through the modem, using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). Homeowners should check with their phone service provider for information about their phone service during a power outage.
The loss of power to refrigerators and freezers can allow harmful bacteria to grow in perishable foods if the temperature rises above 40°F.
During an outage, safe food temperatures can be maintained for several hours inside a refrigerator or freezer if the doors are not opened. It's a good idea to keep a thermometer inside, so you know the temperature.
Do not eat or drink any perishable food that has been warmer than 40°F for more than two hours – it could make you sick.
If you're not sure how long perishable food has been too warm, throw it away. When in doubt, throw it out!
After power is restored, think about how long the outage lasted and be sure to check food temperatures inside your refrigerator and freezer to determine if the food is still safe.
See food safety instructions and guidelines for specific perishable foods.
The loss of power can also pose serious health and safety issues for food facilities.
What is a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS)?
Public Safety Power Shutoffs are planned, short-notice power outages in areas experiencing a high risk of wildfire, as determined by PG&E. The goal is to reduce the risk of PG&E equipment starting a fire.
PG&E decides when and where to implement PSPSs without public input. The company will notify local government and work closely with first responders during a PSPS.
When will it happen?
PG&E will activate PSPSs during periods of extreme fire risk.
Conditions that could trigger a PSPS may include a Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service, a forecast of sustained winds above 25 m.p.h., humidity forecast below 20 percent and dry vegetation.
How much notice will we get?
PG&E plans to notify the Contra Costa County Office of Emergency Services, police and fire 48 hours before a PSPS, providing local jurisdictions with an estimated timeline and maps.
Plans may change depending on weather and fire danger in the affected area, and it is possible that local government will receive less than 48 hours of notice before a PSPS.
How will I be notified?
The Community Warning System will send public safety instructions by phone, text or email to affected subscribers – sign up to make sure you have reliable, timely safety information.
Public agencies will relay PSPS information to the public through web sites, social media and the local news media.
PG&E also sends alerts to customers who sign up for the service by phone, text or email.
When will power come back?
Outages will last until peak fire danger passes. PG&E estimates that a PSPS could last as long as five days.
PG&E will prioritize restoring power to healthcare facilities, first responders and other community infrastructure.
Restoring power to all affected customers could take several more days because the company must inspect all its equipment before turning it back on.