East County News Service
November 12, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) – SDG&E’s outages site reports power outages in multiple rural communities, some planned to prevent fires during high winds, others unplanned. Power is currently out in the vicinities of Alpine, Campo, Jacumba, Potrero, Jamul, Mount Laguna, Descanso, Cuyamaca and Pine Valley.
Here are some steps you should take to be prepared for outages and evacuations. If you have additional tips to share, please post them in our comments section:
- Be sure your cell phone is fully charged. Purchase a solar cell phone charger so you can recharge your phone during an outage, and preprogram your smart phone with websites where you can find emergency information. Write down key contact phone numbers in case your cell phone dies or cell towers go down, so you can call from a land line elsewhere.
- If you have an electric garage door opener, know how to open it manually. If you can’t reach the manual operation, park your vehicle outside so you can evacuate if needed and not find your vehicle trapped inside the garage.
- Be sure each of your vehicles has a full gas tank in case you need to evacuate – and remember that during an outage, gas stations may be closed or not accepting credit cards.
- Keep some cash on hand in case you have to evacuate and stores or restaurants impacted by outages aren’t accepting credit cards.
- If you have an electric well, pre-pump enough water to supply your household, including pets and livestock, if possible.
- Keep a large ice chest or cooler on hand and buy ice when an outage occurs to save some perishable items. Keep your refrigerator closed as much as possible to limit spoilage.
- Get power surge protectors for major electrical items if you don’t already have them.
- If you know an outage is imminent or one has already occurred, unplug appliances, computers, TVs and other electrical equipment to prevent damage from power surges when power is restored.
- Make sure you have enough flashlights with batteries working for every member of your family, and leave them where you can easily access them during an outage. Also keep a flashlight in your vehicle. A portable battery-powered lantern can also be useful during an outage.
- During outages, check www.SDG&E.com and click on the outage map for information on when power is expected to be restored in your area.
- Stock up on non-perishable food items and single-serve beverages in sealed containers.
- Check on vulnerable neighbors and friends, particularly those who are disabled or elderly, during the outage.
- If you rely on a computer for your business, be sure you’ve backed up data off-site so you can retrieve it even if your computer is destroyed. It’s also helpful to backup onto an exterior hard drive that you can take with you when you evacuate.
- Consider purchasing a generator if you live in an area with frequent power outages, but be sure you know how to use it safely, since incorrect usage could cause injury to you or to electrical line workers.
- Avoid barbecuing with open flames that could spark a fire, and never use items such as hibachis or camp stoves indoors due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or fires.
- Pack an evacuation kit with copies of important documents such as passports, birth certificates, and insurance policies, some family photos, vital medications, nonperishable foods and other critical items such as infant formula. Have a carrier or leash for each of your pets handy, along with pet supplies. It’s also a good idea to keep spare blankets, water bottles, a change of clothes and other emergency supplies in the trunk of your vehicle so you won’t have to waste time packing them during an emergency.
- Be sure you have cleared defensible space of at least 100 feet around your home, particularly getting rid of dead, dry brush or other flammable items. Trim branches away from the roof and get dead leaves out of gutters.
- Photograph each room of your house especially valuable items to assist you with insurance claims in the event your home burns.
- Don’t’ wait for an evacuation order to leave if you feel threatened or see flames nearby. If you do evacuate, be sure all windows and doors are tightly sealed to prevent embers from blowing into your home and igniting the interior.
- Have a list of contacts for all family members and a list of agreed upon contacts and meeting places outside of your community in case the family is separated when an evacuation occurs.
- If you evacuate, wear clothes made of natural, not synthetic materials since synthetic fabrics such as nylon or polyester will melt and adhere to your skin. Cotton, silk or wool are better options. You can also invest in fire-resistant clothing or gear available online.
- If it becomes impossible to evacuate, be aware of any nearby bodies of water, such as a swimming pool or pond. On elderly couple survived the Cedar Fire by grabbing straws and a metal bowl, which they used to breathe while submerging themselves in a swimming pool as the fire passed overhead. Another man trapped without a vehicle when the Cedar Fire ignited his home soaked a blanket in water from the bathtub and wrapped it around himself before running through a wall of flames to reach a nearby roadway. He suffered serious burns, but survived.
- Familiarize yourself with multiple evacuation routes including foot paths as well as roadways. One local resident who lives on a cul-de-sac added gates to two neighbors’ properties, allowing everyone the option of fleeing on foot to an adjacent street, if either of two dead-end streets becomes blocked by fire.