PG&E may shut off power in more high-risk wildfire areas. Here’s what to do if it happens

How to prepare for a power outage

Here are some simple things you can do to be prepared if your power goes out.
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Here are some simple things you can do to be prepared if your power goes out.

PG&E shut off the power of 21,000 of its northern Sierra Nevada customers about a week ago as a precautionary measure against wildfire. A similar fate could await the Eastern Madera County and Mariposa County foothill communities, according to the utility company.

Denny Boyles, spokesperson for PG&E, said any high-risk wildfire area could have their power shutoff should conditions require it. Oakhurst and Mariposa, as well as the communities surrounding them, are among said high-risk communities.

PG&E is using deliberate blackouts as “a last resort” and it would take a confluence of factors for the utility to take that course of action.

“There is no single factor that causes it. A variety of thresholds have to be met in order for such a thing to happen,” Boyles said.

Dry and windy conditions, a National Weather Service Red Flag Warning, fuel conditions and the area’s terrain are among the factors considered when PG&E decides whether or not to move forward with a power outage, Boyles said. All of those fell into place earlier this month in portions of Butte, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer and Yuba Counties.

Boyles said the best thing residents can do in the event that an outage happens in their areas is to be prepared. That means making sure their contact information is up to date and keeping their phone charged, so PG&E can reach them and warn them of an impending outage.

If residents have a generator installed in their home, Boyles said it should be installed by a qualified electrician. And finally, Boyles recommended keeping frozen water bottles around as an alternative form of keeping food cold.

But more than anything, Boyles said community members should listen to any advice that fire officials have to offer.

“All the advice you’re given by CalFire is worth listening to. It definitely has to be a cooperative effort,” Boyles said.

In the Northern California outage, PG&E provided residents with Community Centers where they could go pick up key resources during the outage. Similar locations would be available in other communities that endure these outages.

The power outage there lasted one day.

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