PG&E offers safety tips for upcoming storms, winter weather
November 29, 2012
With the National Weather Service forecasting a series of Pacific high-wind storms starting today and dumping an anticipated eight inches of rain on western Nevada County by Monday, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company is cautioning customers with preparation and safety tips.
The rain system is expected to bring winds reaching gust speeds of 40 miles per hour in the Grass Valley area and even faster on surrounding area ridges, according to the National Weather Service. Peak tops of the Sierra Nevada could see gusts in excess of 60 miles per hour.
"Stormy weather throughout the Sacramento Valley and the Sierra Foothills will bring gusty winds starting Wednesday and continuing throughout the week," said PG&E spokeswoman Brandy Ehlers in a statement. "Windy weather and wet or snowy conditions have the potential to cause weather-related outages."
High temperatures throughout the week are expected to be in the lower 50s with lows around 40 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Freezing altitudes aren't predicted until above 6,000 feet.
Among PG&E's preventative recommendations, one of the more prominent is to avoid candles and instead use battery-operated flashlights and radios with spare fresh batteries available. That way, if the power goes out, you can still see and listen for updates on storm conditions and power outages.
If you have a telephone system that requires electricity to work (such as a cordless phone or answering machine), plan for alternate communication — have a standard telephone handset, cellular telephone or pager ready as a backup.
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PG&E also recommends freezing plastic containers filled with water to make blocks of ice that can be placed in your refrigerator/freezer during an outage to prevent foods from spoiling.
Once an outage has happened, after reporting it to PG&E, the utility company recommends residents unplug or turn off all 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. Then, as conditions return to normal, turn appliances back on one at a time to prevent overloads.
PG&E says that customers should treat all downed power lines as if they are "live" or energized. Keep yourself and others away from them and call 911, then notify PG&E.
Customers with generators should make sure they are properly installed by a licensed electrician, as improperly installed generators pose a significant danger to electrical workers.
Before reporting a power outage, check to see if other neighbors are affected. This would confirm if an outage has occurred in just your residence or within the neighborhood area. If only your residence is without power, check circuit breakers and/or fuse boxes to see if the problem is limited to the home electric system.
Single or neighborhood outages can be reported to PG&E's 24-Hour Emergency and Customer Service Line at (800) 743-5002, which is also the number to report outages and get updated outage information and the anticipated time your power will be turned back on.
If you lose power overnight, you can call PG&E to request a wake-up call.
"We'll be happy to give you a wake-up call, as well as up-to-date information on your outage and time of restoration," PG&E noted in a statement.
— Information in this report was provided in a PG&E press release. To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4236.