CENTRAL SIERRA — As the first storm of the season moves toward Northern and Central California packing rain and gusty winds, PG&E is urging all their customers to be prepared, have a plan and prepare for potential power outages, and above all, be safe.
With the severe tree mortality in the Central Sierra, residents in foothill communities face serious dangers with the potential for falling trees, which may cause damage, threaten life, or take out power lines.
Meteorologists say a series of early season storm systems will impact some parts of Northern and Central California starting Thursday afternoon and continuing on and off through the weekend, bringing rain, along with breezy and gusty winds.
Though the Central Sierra may not receive substantial amounts of rain or heavy winds with this first storm, it’s time to make sure you’re ready for the coming winter weather, especially with the threat from dead trees..
PG&E says they are closely tracking the weather system and mobilizing crews and materials into areas that will feel the brunt of the storm, so they can get to work and restore service to impacted customers more quickly.
“Leveraging a combination of preparedness, practice and technology, PG&E is ready to respond to the first storms of the winter season that are approaching our service territory,” said Barry Anderson, vice president, Electric Distribution, PG&E. “Likewise, we encourage our customers to take the time now to make a plan or review their personal and family preparedness plans before the storm arrives.”
PG&E notes that they routinely practice their preparedness and response to storms and other emergencies through company exercises and through drills with local first responders.
However, even with all the preparation by the power company, it is important that residents take steps to deal with outages in the event they happen:
· Have battery-operated flashlights and radios with fresh batteries ready. Listen for updates on storm conditions and power outages.
· If you have a cordless phone or answering machine that requires electricity to work, have a standard telephone or cell phone ready as a backup.
· Keep your cell phone charged, and have a portable charging device handy.
· Freeze plastic containers filled with water to make blocks of ice that can be placed in your refrigerator/freezer during an outage to prevent food from spoiling.
If outages occur:
· Stay away from downed power lines. Treat all downed power lines as if they are energized and extremely dangerous. Keep yourself and others well away from them and immediately call 911, then notify PG&E’s 24-hour emergency and customer service line at 1-800-743-5002.
· Candles pose a fire risk. Avoid using them during a power outage. If you must use candles, keep them away from drapes, lampshades and small children. Do not leave candles unattended.
· If your power goes out, unplug or turn off electric appliances to avoid overloading circuits and fire hazards when power is restored. Simply leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
For the latest information on power restoration, customers can call PG&E’s outage information line at 1-800-743-5002. Updates are also available through a live outage map online at www.pge.com/outages.
In addition, PG&E also encourages customers around waterways to take appropriate precautions as rains could result in an increase in water flows, creating potentially dangerous conditions. Safety tips can be found here.