Preparing for a Public Safety Power Shutoff in Mendocino County

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The summer season has commenced, which means the likelihood of experiencing a power outage due to overloaded electrical equipment (everyone is using their air conditioner and fans these days) or a Public Safety Power Shutoff event is increased. PG&E has organized PSPS events in the past during a wildfire event or strong winds to prevent future spread of damage.

How is a potential PSPS event determined?

PG&E regularly reviews a combination of factors to determine if power should be shut off in your area, including:

High winds

Low humidity

High temperatures

Condition of dry material on the ground and vegetation near lines

General conditions and observations of spacing between trees, whether trees falling could damage power lines and electrical equipment, etc.

A presence of one of these factors does not necessarily mean a PSPS event could occur. However, according to PG&E’s website, “Although you may not live or work in a high fire-threat area or an area experiencing high winds, your power may be shut off if your community relies on a line that runs through an area that is experiencing extreme weather.”

How Can I Prepare For a PSPS event?

Stock up on shelf stable foods (such as pasta and canned foods), pet and baby food, as well as medicine and other necessities. Fill your gas tank, charge any medical devices and have flashlights on hand. PG&E recommends turning off and unplugging electrical appliances (computer, TV’s, water heaters as well) that may spark or surge once power is restored.

Some households have access to a generator. Be sure you are educated on how to properly use a generator, and never use it inside your home. These gas-powered engines, dependent on their wattage, are very helpful for running your lights, refrigerator, freezer and keeping your cell phones charged. However, if you do not have one, you can prevent food spoiling with coolers and lots of ice. As long as a fridge is kept closed, food can last for up to 4 hours. Freezer food can last up to 48 hours. Charge your phones and purchase backup rechargeable chargers for your devices. Use camping equipment such as a charcoal grill or camp stove for cooking.

Dealing With The Aftermath

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your power being shut off, it can cause some issues for your and your family. We have dealt with cleanup of refrigerators after a power shutoff in Mendocino County; the aftermath smell can be very hard to remove not only from your appliances, but your entire home as well! Odors are just as troublesome as an infestation. However, there are methods you can use to get rid of the smell. Vinegar, baking soda or activated charcoal on trays or in cups in a running refrigerator may absorb the smell. Bleach is never recommended, as it is harmful when ingested and should not be near where food is stored.

Did you know you can file an insurance claim to help with the financial burden of replacing your food due to a power outage? Some insurance companies cover this loss if the utility company is at fault, even for a planned power outage. Just like in water and fire damage situations, food becomes spoiled and replacement is included in your claim, which means more money to get your life back on track and food in your fridge. However, homeowners insurance doesn’t cover maintenance issues so if your fridge stops working or you go away for the weekend and discover all the food has gone bad, it becomes your responsibility to replace.

West Coast Fire & Water has had the unique opportunity to help families who have had rotten food removed from their home. Just like we advertise, we are here to help during any type of disaster situation because we care about you and your family’s well-being!

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