But, before we look at the unfolding social instability in Oakland’s immediate future, just what is the Public Safety Power Shutoff?
Beyond that, the more specific reason for the Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) that Pacific Gas and Electric Company provides is best understood by the “AC Alerts” it has sent out for Alameda County, Albany, and Oakland, and this email letter from Oakland’s District 6 Councilmember Loren Taylor (I live in District Three, represented by Lynette Gibson McElhaney):
HOW TO PREPARE:
Subscribe to ACAlert.org
for alerts and updates via text message, phone calls, or email.
Create a safety plan for all members of your family, including pets. A Public Safety Power Shutoff can happen at any time of day or night, due to changing weather conditions.
Prepare an emergency supply kit. Include enough water, non-perishable food, toiletries, and medicine to last your household—including pets—for one week. Be sure to refresh your kit once a year.
Determine if your landline will work during an outage. Keep a mobile phone as backup.
Keep mobile phones and other devices charged.
Keep your gas tank full and cash on hand; during power shutoffs, gas pumps and ATMs won’t work.
If you have a generator, make sure it’s ready to operate safely.
Have flashlights available for your household. Avoid using candles.
Talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines. Plan for batteries and other alternatives to meet your needs when the power goes out.
If you have a driveway, use it. Keep narrow roads clear for emergency vehicles and evacuations.
Create a plan– Develop an evacuation plan and identify a safe meeting place away from the home in the event you become separated. Clearly identify safe routes out of the home in case the primary exit is unavailable.
What is the City Doing to Prepare?
At 12 noon today, the City activated its Emergency Operations Center to optimize coordination of City operations and resources.
In addition to the Oakland Fire Department’s normal operations, firefighters will conduct roving fire patrols in the Oakland Hills. These resources will augment the department’s normal hill company patrols that are out during high fire danger. Additionally, the State of California Office of Emergency Services is pre-positioning fire suppression resources in Oakland and the region.
AFTER A POWER SHUTOFF
Use coolers with ice to keep food cold and safe. Typically, your refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep its temperature for about 48 hours–as long as the freezer and refrigerator doors are kept closed.
Unplug or turn off appliances, equipment, and electronics to avoid damage caused by surges when the power is restored.
Leave a single lamp on to alert you when the power returns. Then, turn your appliances on, one at a time.
Use generators, camp stoves or charcoal grills outdoors only. Do not use a gas stove for heat.
Check on your neighbors. (Courtesy of PGE.com: https://bit.ly/35j1bkT
Loren Taylor, Councilmember
Oakland – District 6
As a forum exchange involving Oakland residents living in the Glenview District shows, there’s a lot of confusion regarding what this “powerdown” will mean:
UC Berkeley Cal Alumni Oakland Resident responds: “My understanding is it’s everything, even water might be a problem. Usually you need electricity to ignite your gas stove and cooktop but you can light it with a match. I mention water bc I’ve been reading EBMUD needs electrical to power water supply. If the outages last more than a few days, they said they might have problems making sure they have enough power supply for their water pumps for fires and in turn this may affect residents if their particular power supply is limited in your area. They ask everyone to use as little water as possible and no irrigation during that time but I’ve read they are warning that people need to make sure they have enough drinking water to last the outage. We’ll probably have water for a day or two but if it’s a week or several, I can see them running out of residential water supply. I’ve also read that EBMUD is very concerned about this problem and they don’t have the money to add major amounts of power supply to pump water.
As to length of shutoffs, no one knows. The official announcements I’ve seen for this particular upcoming shutoff said two days but the county just sent an email that said 5 days so who knows. And after the fire danger is over, they then have to physically inspect the lines before restoring power so that takes addl time. From everything I’ve read for outages in general, there are no set times. They can turn it off as long as they want to and it can last weeks at a time. It’s entirely up to them and they have zero oversight.
This Glenview Resident chimed in with: “Don’t count on cell phones either. Most cell towers only have a few hours of emergency battery power.”
The Loss Of Water Is Not Reported To Be An Outcome Of The Powerdown. That’s Why It’s A Powerdown.
As an Oakland Resident wisely reminds us all:
Before frightening neighbors, we should be very careful about on passing rumors.
There has been no suggestion that we will be without water. That would be a serious health issue that would be publicly addressed.
The only effect on water will be the loss of hot water, NOT A LOSS OF WATER.
It is important that we look out for each other and only quote verifiable information.
Public Advised of Extreme Fire Danger Due to High Winds and Low Humidity
Stay informed – Sign up for AC ALERT!
Emergency Tips to Keep You Safe
“We are anticipating the strongest winds we have seen all season, akin to the wind conditions during the 2017 North Bay fires,” said Oakland Fire Chief Darin White. “Although the threat is greatest in the hills, a rapidly spreading wildfire could have widespread impact across the city. We are urging residents to be prepared, and to use extreme caution over the next few days.”
This morning the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for the East Bay hills and interior valleys, North Bay mountains and interior valleys and Diablo Range from 5 am Wednesday through 5 pm Thursday. They also issued a Wind Advisory for the East Bay Hills and North Bay mountains from 6 amWednesday through 3 pm Thursday. The National Weather Service predicts that: “Northerly winds will increase by late Tuesday night and continue to be strong and gusty through at least Thursday morning. North to northeast winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts of 45 to 55 mph are likely. Locally higher gusts are possible on the highest ridges and peaks. These strong winds will create critical fire weather conditions. Strongest winds expected from Wednesday evening through mid-morning Thursday. Warm and dry conditions will continue into Friday, but winds are not expected to be a factor after Thursday.”