In the past year or so, public power agencies have begun conducting what are called “PSPS,” or Public Power Safety Shutoff, during times of extreme fire conditions or excessively high heat and winds. In Santa Barbara County, those conditions are taking place this week, and a power shut-off is possible to help reduce the risk of wildfires.
So, what do you do to keep healthy and safe if this happens?
It is best – just like for an earthquake or wildfire – to be prepared. A PSPS outage can go on as long as the potentially dangerous weather conditions exist. The power companies also need to inspect and repair any damaged equipment, which takes time. In some regions, power agencies are warning outages can last 5 to 7 days.
In preparation for the possibility of a PSPS event, we want the community to know LVMC and Lompoc Health are prepared for any power-related emergencies. We want to make sure you are as well, especially if you are dependent on electricity for medical equipment or other healthcare-related needs.
You should prepare now: Take an inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity, including oxygen concentrator, CPAP, wheelchair, refrigerated medications, ventilator, at-home dialysis and more.
If you are dependent on a medical device, you can register with your power company, and ask about the medical baseline program.
- For Southern California Edison, call 800-447-6620
- For PG&E, call 800-743-5000
For medical-related needs, speak with your healthcare provider, home health provider or hospice agency about a power outage plan. Find out how long your medications will be effective without refrigeration.
LVMC is prepared to assist people in our community who are dependent on electricity to maintain their health status. If it is a life-threatening emergency, call 911. If you need assistance with electricity for medical equipment in the time of a PSPS, please call 805-737-3300.
Remember, too, that power outages may mean closures for stores such as pharmacies. Make sure your prescription renewals are up-to-date and prepare for the potential of not being able to access your pharmacy.
If you have physical access or functional needs, consider viewing this Emergency Checklist:
This document helps you do some advance planning that may increase the chance your access and functional needs are met if you have to evacuate quickly or shelter-in-place. You can include your everyday needs, but also consider items that may be unique to you, such as assistive devices, service animals, or medications.
In general, here are a few things everyone can do to prepare in advance:
- Have an outage plan for your electronic medical devices
- Monitor the weather and fire situation
- Plan to have fresh batteries to meet your needs
- Sign up for emergency alerts at readysbc.org and Nixle (text your zip code to 888777)
- Keep your cell phone charged and gas tank full
Once the outage occurs, there are a number of tips you can follow to help get through the situation:
- Keep fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible
- Avoid activities that could start a fire, such as burning in a fire pit
- Eat food from your fridge first, then the freezer. Eat non-perishable items last
- Avoid the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning – don’t use barbecues or generators indoors
If you need more information or want to keep updated, check out:
- Prepareforpowerdown.com – PSPS awareness website for all California power companies
- Ready.gov/power-outage – Power outage preparedness information
- cpuc.ca.gov/deenergization – Information on California Public Utility Commission
- caloes.ca.gov – California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services