How to prepare for a power outage
This week, PG&E announced they will be shutting down power to prevent wildfires caused by electrical lines — a move that will impact nearly 800,000 people. Since the shut-off may last several days, it’s important that you are prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Below are several precautions residents should heed to stay safe:
Back-up power and heat
In addition to anything that plugs into outlets, like a phone charger or television, all appliances use electricity, as well as garage door openers, lights, and possibly even the heating system. Being ready with a backup generator can help keep critical items running during an outage.
When turning to backup electricity and heat, safety should be top of mind. A portable generator and any fuel-burning appliance can give off carbon monoxide, which can be dangerous and even deadly. For this reason, never run a generator indoors. Make sure to run generators a good distance away from the house, away from windows and allow for adequate ventilation. Besides, ensure homes are equipped with battery-powered carbon monoxide detectors in all bedrooms, living areas, and the kitchen.
Food, water, and medications
Once a refrigerator loses power, the food inside could begin to spoil. Keeping the refrigerator and freezer door closed can help slow the process. According to the Red Cross, an unopened refrigerator will keep food safe for up to four hours, and an unopened freezer will keep food frozen for 48 hours, or 24 hours if the freezer is only half-full. Stock up on non-perishable foods, like canned goods and dried fruits to get through the power outage.
Be prepared with a storage of water, too. The standard suggestion is one gallon of water per person per day, according to Ready.gov. Just to be safe, plan for three days’ worth of water.
In addition, people with medical conditions whose treatment depends on a secure power supply should speak with their medical advisers now to be ready. That could mean simply having a full ice chest ready to go in case you have medicines that need to be refrigerated, having a back-up power supply, or evacuating to a location that has a power source.
During any power outage, staying connected to friends, family, and news sources is critically important. Invest in one or more power banks for cell phones and ensure they are fully charged. In addition, sign up for local alerts from news sources, as well as alerts from the utility company and government alerts. Follow advice from these sources, including heeding any curfew and evacuations procedures. Check out the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services site for other tips.
The right homeowners insurance policy can protect your finances against major expenses in certain cases. For example, should your power outage be caused by a fallen tree that damages your home and power line, your homeowners insurance policy may help pay for some of the repairs. In some qualifying conditions, it may even cover the loss of food due to spoilage.
To find out how a homeowners insurance policy can help out in some cases of power outage, contact a CIG insurance agent in your area.