PG&E may cut electricity during high fire danger, are you prepared?

SAN FRANCISCO -- Fire season is upon us and PG&E warns that it may cut electrical power during days of strong winds and extreme fire danger to prevent a tragedy like last year's Wine Country fires, when it is suspected that downed transformers sparked several fires.

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A forced blackout would leave residents in the dark, in more ways than one. That's because devices we have come to rely on need electricity to function, like WiFi transmitters, streaming televisions and digital assistants like Amazon's Echo and Google Home.

Here are some tips to prepare for a power outage.

  • 1. Keep your smartphone fully charged.

  • 2. Use an external battery charger that can charge your phone several times. If possible, purchase a more robust battery charger that can charge several devices at a time.

  • 3. Turn your car into an emergency generator by using a power inverter that turns DC current from your vehicle to AC current to power home devices from your car.

  • 4. Store plenty of batteries to power LED flashlights and portable radios. Remember, streaming services won't work without electricity.

  • 5. Refill your car's gas tank when it reaches half a tank to avoid being caught without gasoline during a prolonged blackout. Gas pumps rely on electricity to function. If you own an electric vehicle, keep it fully charged.

  • 6. Keep plenty of cash on hand since ATM machines likely won't work during a power outage. Credit card machines also require electricity.

  • 7. Disconnect your computer and use a surge protector to avoid damage from a power surge when the electricity comes back on.

  • 8. Learn to operate your garage door without electricity. Pull on the red handle that should be dangling from the garage door unit. This will unhinge the door from the rail so that you can manually lift the door. Some doors have a key so they can be opened from the outside during a power outage.
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    Ronald Cheung from Garage Masters shows how to open a garage door during a power outage.

  • 9. Freeze water in plastic containers so that they will keep food cold during a temporary outage. A freezer can keep food safe for 48 if the door is unopened. The refrigerator should maintain cool temperatures for about four hours if the door is not opened.

  • 10. Make sure every member of your family has an emergency contact list printed out in case a cellphone battery dies.

  • 11. Store non-perishable foods and drinking water for you and your family. Items like crackers, trail mix, canned tuna and dried fruit do not require a stove or electricity to prepare.

  • 12. Consider your family's medical needs. Store necessary medications and prepare an emergency power source for any medical devices that require electricity.

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