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Power Shutoff Readiness

Preparing for a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS)

Read Preparing for a PSPS Fact Sheet

NEW: Information for Persons Dependent on Electricity

Local power utilities (Southern California Edison/PG&E) recently developed plans to shut down power during critical fire weather in order to reduce the risk of wildfires. The Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) could lead to multi-day power outages in many areas during periods of extremely hot, dry and/or windy weather.

How long is a PSPS outage expected to last?

A PSPS outage will last as long as the potentially dangerous weather conditions exist, plus the amount of time it takes for power company workers to inspect and repair their equipment in the affected area(s). Residents need to be prepared to endure a power outage lasting 3-5 days.

What does this mean for Santa Barbara County residents?

Power outages impact the whole community and can make it difficult for people to meet their basic needs, as well as:

  • Disrupt communications, water, air conditioning and transportation
  • Close retail businesses, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs, banks and other services
  • Cause food spoilage and water contamination
  • Prevent the use of medical devices such as oxygen concentrators and other devices
  • Prevent the use of elevators, garage doors, electric gates and doors, etc.

What can residents do to be prepared?

Ensuring you are prepared will help you to be more resilient and ready for an extended power outage.

  • Take an inventory now of the items you need that rely on electricity. Plan for batteries and other alternatives to meet your needs when the power goes out. If your property has automatic gates or garage doors, learn how to open them manually when the power is out.
  • Have enough nonperishable food and water (1 gallon per person/per day) for at least 5 days.
  • Talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for any medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines. Find out how long medication can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific guidance for any medications that are critical for life.
  • Monitor the weather so you know when a power shutoff is likely. Contact your power provider (SCE or PG&E) to find out what resources they have that can assist you during an outage.
  • Sign up for Aware and Prepare emergency alerts at ReadySBC.org and Nixle text notifications by texting your zip code to 888777.
  • Purchase a battery-powered radio to help you stay informed. During an emergency when the power is out, Radio Ready-designated local radio stations with generators and can continue to broadcast. For a list of these stations, go to: https://readysbc.org/storm-ready/radio-ready/.
  • Determine whether your home phone will work in a power outage. Hard-wired landline phones, assuming they are analog and not wireless or VoIP (Voice over Internet), generally workduring a power outage because they operate through the phone line (call your phone company to confirm). Cellular phones and phones powered by electricity will work only as long as they are charged and as long as the cell towers have power. Some cell towers have back-up generator power, but not all.
  • Keep mobile phones and other electric equipment charged and gas tanks full. Most fuel stations will not be open during an outage so use fuel sparingly.
  • Avoid using candles and have flashlights with extra batteries ready for every household member.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backup on every level of your home.
  • Don’t forget about your pets. Have enough food, water and medications to sustain your pets.
  • Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. Place block ice in the refrigerator, move perishables to the bottom shelves or drawers, and monitor temperatures with a thermometer (keep temperatures below 40 degrees °F). If a refrigerator is not an option, food can be placed in coolers with ice.
  • Consume food supplies in the most efficient order possible with perishable refrigerated food first, perishable frozen food next, and canned, shelf-stable and dehydrated foods last. Using masking tape on the refrigerator door is a helpful reminder to keep it closed. Think about what you need before opening it and close it quickly.
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators, camp stoves or charcoal grills should never be used indoors or less than 20 feet away from windows. Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home. If using a gas-powered generator, remember that most fuel stations will not be open.
  • Check on your neighbors and pets. Outages are most likely during periods of hot weather. Older adults, young children and animals are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures.
  • If heat or cold is extreme and you have the ability to leave, go to a community location or another location outside of the outage area that has power.
  • Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment or electronics. Power may return with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can cause damage.
  • Avoid activities that could spark a fire. If a fire starts in your area or if you feel that you are in danger, do not rely on emergency alerts to tell you when to evacuate. When the power is out emergency alerts may not work properly.
  • Help keep emergency lines open. Only call 9-1-1 if you are having an emergency.
  • When in doubt, throw it out! Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
  • If the power is out for more than a day, discard any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise.
  • If a life depends on the refrigerated drugs, consult a doctor or pharmacist and use medicine only until a new supply is available.

To Learn More From Your Local Power Company About PSPS

Southern California Edison (SCE)
Visit sce.com/PSPS | Phone: 1-800-655-4555

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)
Visit pge.com/wildfiresafety | Phone: 1-866-743-6589

Additional Preparedness Resources

The County on Twitter

Be Radio Ready

Radio Ready

During an emergency when the power is out and when critical and timely information must get out to the general public, the County Office of Emergency Management will utilize satellite equipment to regularly communicate with designated County radio stations that have generators and can continue to broadcast. Visit this link for a list of stations to check if you lose power and cannot access the Internet.

Contact The County

105 E. Anapamu St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone: 211