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In Case of Outage: Safety Checklist

Although we work hard to plan and prevent power losses, occasional outages do occur. The more you know about outages, how we deal with them, and what you can do to stay comfortable and safe, the more empowered you are when the electricity is out.

Appliances: Protecting From Damage

Your electronics and appliances can be vulnerable to outages too, and knowing how to care for them during power losses will help keep you safe and protect them from damage.

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  • Unplug Appliances: Televisions, computer equipment, advanced technology washers and dryers, game consoles, fans, lights, etc., should be unplugged, especially if they were in use when the power went out.
  • Use Surge Protectors: It’s strongly recommended that expensive electronics be unplugged during an outage to protect them from power surges when electricity is restored, but for when you can’t unplug, surge protectors will help prevent damage to electronics like computers and televisions.
  • Keep the Fridge & Freezer Closed: Make sure food stays as cold as possible, by keeping refrigerator and freezer doors closed and placing blocks of ice inside.
  • Turn Out the Lights: Turn all light switches and lamps off except for one, so you will know when power returns. If the power is still out when you go to sleep, leave a bedroom light on to wake you so you can safety check your home.

Traffic: Street Smarts

A power outage can make driving dangerous. In addition to traffic lights and streetlights being out, there may be many emergency vehicles on the road. If you’re on the road when an outage happens, or you can’t stay home until power is restored, a few guidelines will keep you on the road to safety.

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  • Be Extra Cautious: Watch out for vehicles and pedestrians, and stop at all intersections even if you think you have the right of way.
  • Don’t Drive Tired: Stay put, or pull over. Even if you don't fall asleep behind the wheel, the combination of a power outage and fatigue make for dangerous driving.
  • Use Cell Phones Sparingly: Use your cell phone only if you witness an accident or run into trouble—the road needs your full attention during an outage.
  • Be Aware of Others: A dark road without working traffic lights can cause someone to drive on the wrong side of the road, so look both ways. You may also find it more difficult to see pedestrians.
  • Emergency Cash: Try to keep some cash with you if you’re out and about, since credit cards won’t work during a power outage

Elevators: What To Do In An Outage

If you are in an elevator when the power goes out, the elevator will automatically stop where it is. There’s no cause for alarm, but there are a few things you can do to let the right people know that you’re stuck and help you get out sooner.

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  • Press the “Open” Button: If you are near the landing the door will open. Exit the elevator slowly and carefully, as it may not be level with the landing.
  • Press the Alarm or Help Button: Trained emergency personnel will respond within several minutes. Some elevators have a two-way speaker system or telephone. Do not be alarmed if you cannot make an outgoing call. Some phones are designed to only receive calls, and emergency personnel should call when they arrive at the building.
  • Calmly Call for Help: Every few minutes, call for help or bang on the elevator door to attract attention.
  • Wait for Help: Never try to exit through partially opened doors or a ceiling service door. Wait for trained emergency personnel to arrive. Even though it may get warm, plenty of air is circulating in the elevator.

 

Generators: Safety Tips

Using a backup source of power can keep you up and running during an outage, but generators can be dangerous if connected or used improperly. Consult an electrician before you bring a generator home to determine the proper equipment and set you up safely.

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  • Equipment Options: Choose a generator rated for more power that you think you will need, depending on what lighting, appliances, and equipment you plan to connect to the generator. Again, this is best determined by an electrician.
  • Safety Hazards: Every year people die in portable generator-related incidents. The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, electric shock, electrocution and fire. Follow the directions supplied with the generator.
  • Getting Hooked up: Connect electrical equipment to a portable generator using a heavy duty, outdoor extension cord that is rated more than the sum of the connected appliance loads. Make sure the entire cord has no cuts or tears and that the plug has all three prongs, especially a grounding pin. Do not run portable generators indoors, and don’t connect a portable generator to your home's electrical wiring or electrical panel as this can lead to serious injury or electrocution.
  • Beware of Backfeeding: Never try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet, otherwise known as "backfeeding". This is extremely dangerous and can electrocute utility workers and even neighbors. Electrocution is the fifth leading cause of all reported occupational deaths.
  • Connect with an Electrician: If you decide to wire a generator directly to your home, California state law mandates that you notify Southern California Edison. The only recommended method to connect a generator to house wiring is by having a qualified electrician install a power transfer switch, in compliance with national, state and local electrical codes. Find a licensed electrician to see if you can install the appropriate equipment.
  • Portable vs. Permanent: Even a properly connected portable generator can become overloaded, become overheated and stress the generator components, which can lead to generator failure. For power outages, permanently installed, stationary generators are better suited for providing backup power to a home or business.

Food: Cool Facts

The perishable foods in your refrigerator and freezer may or may not be safe to consume after an outage, depending on the length of the outage and outdoor temperatures. You can take steps to keep your food fresh for longer, and take measures to make sure your food is still safe to eat once the fridge is running again.

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Food Safety Tips

  • Keep It Closed: Open refrigerator and freezer doors only when you need to. Depending on how hot it is outside, an unopened refrigerator can keep foods cold enough for several hours. Placing blocks of ice inside will help keep food cold longer. Check food carefully for signs of spoilage.
  • Draw the Line at 40 Degrees: Perishable foods should not be held above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 2 hours.
  • Coolers & Ice Chests: If an outage is likely to be longer than 2 hours, refrigerated milk, dairy products, meats, fish, poultry, eggs and leftovers can also be packed into a cooler surrounded by ice. A separate cooler can be packed with frozen items.
  • Cans & Dry Goods: Shelf-stable foods, such as canned and dry goods and powdered or boxed milk, can be eaten cold or heated on a grill.
  • Leave a Light On: When you go to bed, leave a bedroom light switched on. It will wake you when power returns, so you can check the condition of your food.
  • While You Were Out: If an outage happens while you're out of the house, try to determine how long it has been out. Check the internal temperature of the food in your refrigerator with a quick-response thermometer; if it is above 40 degrees, throw it out. If power comes back on in less than 24 hours and your freezer is fairly full, your food should be safe. If the refrigerator was out for more than 24 hours, you should get rid of perishables.

For more information, see Food Safety.

Medical Equipment: Emergency Measures

Some customers depend on uninterrupted power to operate medical equipment in their homes. We will make our best effort to notify our Medical Baseline customers prior to pre-planned and rotating outages, but since we cannot guarantee uninterrupted service, these customers should be prepared at all times with a back-up power system or other arrangements.

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Additional Considerations

  • If your medical equipment is supplied by a hospital or a durable medical equipment company, work with them to develop an emergency or back-up plan. Some companies may supply additional medical equipment and other services during emergency situations.
  • Contact your local fire department to identify whether they maintain a list of customers with special medical needs. Being on this list may help them better respond to you during emergencies.
  • Keep emergency telephone numbers handy, including your doctor, police, fire and durable medical equipment company, if you have one.
  • Develop plans to leave your home in the event of a lengthy outage, and share this plan with family, friends, and others that should be aware.
  • Keep a fully charged cell phone on hand. During outages, you may lose phone service, including services from your cordless phone.
  • Have a battery-operated radio or television available to keep abreast of changing conditions.

Breakers: Reset Safely

If a circuit overloads or shorts, the breaker will trip and cut power to prevent fire and possible electrocution. Resetting a breaker is simple, if you know how, and will restore power to the room or rooms affected if there isn’t an outage.

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Step by Step: Resetting Breakers

  1. Turn off light switches and unplug appliances in all rooms that have lost power.
  2. Find your circuit breaker box and open the cover.
  3. Locate the tripped breaker. Circuit breakers are small, usually horizontal switches and may be labeled (e.g., "kitchen," "bathroom" etc.). The tripped circuit breaker will be in the "off" position or in a middle position between "on" and "off."
  4. Reset the breaker by moving it to the full "off" position and then back to "on." That should clear an overload and return power to the room.
  5. If the breaker re-trips, it could be for a number of reasons: too many lamps and appliances plugged into the circuit; a damaged cord or plug; a short circuit in a receptacle, switch or fixture; or faulty wiring.
  6. Identify and fix problems before finally resetting the breaker.

Tips & Warnings

  • If a breaker continues to re-trip, reset it only when you've corrected the problem, or call an electrician.
  • Most tripped breakers are easily identified by an orange flag that appears when a breaker is in the tripped position.
  • If your home has fuses instead of circuit breakers, follow the same steps for finding the blown fuse, then replace it with a new one of the same amperage.
  • When resetting a breaker use only one hand and stand to the side to avoid electrical arcing if the breaker should malfunction.
  • Working with electrical systems is potentially dangerous. If you're unsure of your abilities or about any aspect of the job, call an electrician