What is a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS)?
The threats of wildfire and extreme weather in California are real! As a result, California’s three largest energy companies (Southern California Edison, SDGE, and PG&E) at the direction of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), are coordinating to prepare all Californians for the threat of wildfires and power outages during times of extreme weather. To help protect customers and communities during extreme weather events, electric power may be shut off for public safety in an effort to prevent a wildfire. This is called a Public Safety Power Shutoff.
As a safety precaution, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE) and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) monitor local fire danger and extreme weather conditions across California and evaluate whether to turn off electric power. The decision and action to turn off power is made by each individual energy company and is based on a combination of factors. Factors include, but are not limited to high winds, low humidity, dry vegetation, fire threat, on-the-ground observations, and public safety risk.
While Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events are more likely to occur in high fire-risk areas, all Californians could be impacted by emergency events and need to be prepared with a plan. Customers should also update their contact information with their energy company so they can receive notifications. Below are specific steps you and your family can take to be ready, should there be an extended power outage that lasts multiple days.
How can I prepare for PSPS events?
- Update your contact information with Southern California Edison so you can be alerted about these shutoffs
- Keep important phone numbers written down and (fire department, paramedics, police, hospital, doctor, relatives, etc.) by the phone
- Place flashlights near the phone, on night stands, and in other handy locations
- Familiarize yourself with your home’s utility boxes (electricity, water, and gas) and know how to turn them off; and keep the proper tools to do so handy
- Know how to manually open your garage door or gates
- Keep the gas tank in at least one car half-full at all times
- Ensure any backup generators are ready to safely operate – identify an outdoor location where you can safely use it during an outage – never use it indoors
- Be prepared to meet the special needs of any infant, elderly, or disabled people in your household
- Identify back-up charging methods for phones – Have a portable cell phone charger on hand and ready to use (consider solar-powered ones as well) and a car charger as well
- Plan for any medical needs like medications that need to be refrigerated or devices that require power
- Plan for the needs of pets and livestock
- Build or restock your emergency kit with flashlights, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash in small denominations
- Make a safety preparedness plan for your family, including designating an emergency meeting location, and plan for how pets will be cared for
Power Outage Safety Tips
- If you see a downed power line, do not touch it or anything in contact with it. Call 911 immediately.
- Power outages in the area may impact traffic signals, so motorists should use extreme caution and treat all intersections as four-way-stops.
- Remember to check emergency supplies to be sure you have a battery-operated radio, a flashlight, and fresh batteries.
- Use flashlights instead of candles to avoid fire hazards in your home or business.
- If you’re in a vehicle with a fallen power line on it, stay in the vehicle and remain calm until help arrives. It is OK to use your cellphone to call 911. If you must leave the vehicle, remember to exit away from downed power lines and exit by jumping from the vehicle and landing with both feet together. You must not touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Then proceed away from the vehicle by shuffling and not picking up your feet until you are several yards away.
- If you use a generator, place it outdoors and plug individual appliances directly into it, using a heavy-duty extension cord. Connecting generators directly to household circuits creates “backfeed,” which is dangerous to repair crews. Please consult the manufacturer’s manual for operating the generator.
- If a traffic signal is flashing red or blacked out, motorists should treat it as a four way stop – Stop until safe to proceed.
- Use extreme caution and patience while driving during power outages and pay close attention to other motorists and their movements.