VA Palo Alto Health Care System
PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff Program
As you may know, PG&E has now enacted their Public Safety Power Shutoff Program for fire season. Provided below, in question and answer format, is some information that can help you and your family members be prepared for power shutoffs.
Q: What is a Public Safety Power Shutoff?
A: In order to keep communities safe, PG&E may need to turn off power during extreme weather or wildfire conditions. This is called a Public Safety Power Shutoff.
Q: What can I do to prepare for a Public Safety Power Shutoff?
A: It is important to prepare an emergency plan in advance in the event your family is affected by a power shutoff – or any other emergency.
- Have a personal safety plan in place for every member of your household (including pets).
- Plan for any medical needs like medications that need to be refrigerated or devices that require power.
- Build or restock your emergency supply kit, including food, water, flashlights, a radio, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash.
- Identify backup charging methods for phones.
- Learn how to manually open your garage door.
- If you own a backup generator, ensure it’s ready to safely operate.
Q: What if I’m dependent on electricity for a medical device?
A: During a Public Safety Power Shutoff, ALL customers serviced by an affected power line will have their power shut off. If you rely on electric or battery-dependent medical technologies such as breathing machines, a power wheelchair or scooter, and home oxygen or dialysis, it is critical that you have a plan in place for an extended power outage.
Your plan should include:
- Keeping emergency phone numbers handy
- A backup location where you can go
- Making sure your energy company is aware of your medical device
- Considering a safe backup power source, such as a generator or uninterruptible power supply
- Establishing multiple people you can contact for help who know how to operate your equipment and backup systems
Get information about emergency power planning for people who use electricity and battery dependent assistive technology and medical devices.
Q: What can I expect if a Public Safety Power Shutoff is going to occur?
A: If a Public Safety Power Shutoff is needed due to extreme weather conditions, you can expect:
- Early Warning Notification – PG&E will aim to send customer alerts before shutting off power.
- Ongoing Updates – PG&E will provide ongoing updates through social media, local news outlets and their website.
- Safety Inspections – After extreme weather has passed, PG&E will inspect the lines in affected areas before power is restored.
- Power Restoration – Power outages could last multiple days depending on the severity of the weather and other factors.
Q: What will trigger a Public Safety Power Shutoff?
A: Every Situation is unique. PG&E will make the decision to turn off power by monitoring local fire danger conditions across California and taking into consideration a combination of weather and environmental factors. These may include, but are not limited to:
• High winds and high wind gusts
• Low humidity levels/dry vegetation
• Fire threat to electrical infrastructure
• Real-time observations by field experts
• A red flag warning declared by the National Weather Service
Q: How long will it take before power is restored?
A: Power will remain out for as long as extreme and dangerous weather conditions pose a potential fire risk. After a Public Safety Power Shutoff event, your energy company will inspect and repair power lines and equipment so power can be safely restored. Depending on the severity of the weather and other factors, power outages could last several hours or multiple days. Visit the PG&E PSPS Event Updates page for current information.
For additional information regarding wildfire readiness, please visit the CalFire – Ready For Wildfire website.