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By Miriam Raftery

December 6, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – SDG&E is warning East County residents of potential power outages this week due to high fire danger. On Tuesday, the utility did shut off power to the Descanso and Cuyamaca areas for several hours during gusty Santa winds, after initially warning that power could remain off until Friday to prevention ignition of power lines.

It’s important to be prepared for outages.  During wildfires in Northern California last month, several people died because they were unable to evacuate. After the power went out, some elderly residents could not disconnect automatic garage door openers or lift heavy garage doors, so they were unable to get their vehicles out.

During high fire danger situations, it’s wise to park your vehicle outdoors to assure that you can evacuate quickly even if the power goes off. Learn how to disconnect your garage door opener and open the door manually in case of an unexpected outage, so you won’t be trapped at home.  Keep plenty of gas in your tank at all times, so you can evacuate quickly if needed.

If you or someone in our household has a serious medical condition and relies on critical life-saving medical equipment such as a respirator or dialysis machine, it’s important to let SDG&E know and sign up for their Medical Baseline program.  SDG&E sends advance notices of rotating outages to its 38,000 Medical Baseline customers, who also receive lower rates on their bills.

If you live in a rural area where outages are common, you may wish to invest in a generator. This is particularly important for livestock owners who depend on electric well pumps to provide water for horses, cattle, chickens or other animals.

Keep flashlights and solar or battery-powered nightlights on hand in case your power goes out. Do not use candles, since a stumble in the dark could cause a fire. 

Have a portable radio with batteries so that you can listen to the news for alerts on fires or other emergencies.  It’s also a good idea to purchase a solar-powered cell phone charger, so that you won’t be left without communication if the power goes off.

Don’t open your refrigerator, if possible, during outages, to keep foods cold.  If power is out more than several hours, discard items at high risk of spoilage. You may also wish to keep an ice chest on hand to preserve some refrigerated items.

Have plenty of water and some packaged foods on hand that can be eaten without cooking and opened without an electric can opener.  Check expiration dates and replace items in your emergency kit as needed.

In case of a prolonged outage, have a backup plan for your household, particularly in very cold or hot weather, such as a friend or relative you can stay with temporarily. 

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