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Office of Emergency Services
855 N. San Pedro St.
San Jose, CA 95110

Ph: (408) 794-7055

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Self-Reliance in a Power Outage
By following the easy tips below, you can ensure that you and your family will be prepared whenever the power goes out.

Children depend on daily routines: regular times for meals, school and play. At night, they are accustomed to having light and entertainment available at the flick of a switch. When a power outage interrupts this routine, children may become anxious and look to you and other adults for help.

How you react to a power outage gives children clues on how to act. If you react with alarm, a child may become frightened. When talking with children about an outage, be sure to present a realistic picture about what has happened and the expected outcome.

Explain the Situation
Your calming words and actions will provide reassurance.

Concentrate on your child's emotional needs by asking the child what's uppermost in his or her mind. Encourage children to describe what they're feeling. Listen to what they say. If possible, include the entire family in the discussion.

School Plans
Ask your children's teachers and caregivers about power outage emergency plans for schools and day-care centers.

Emergency Number
Post emergency telephone numbers near telephones and teach your children how and when to call for help.

Keep flashlights, light sticks, playing cards, books, notebooks, magazines, board games and craft supplies handy.

Family Reunification
Have a plan for checking on and reuniting family members.

Stay Home
If possible, stay home and be safe during a power outage. Stores and gas stations may be closed. Don't add to the confusion by driving around.

Security Gates
Find out the steps needed to open and close security gates without electricity.

House Numbers
Ensure house numbers are readily visible from the street for emergency response.

Reset Appliances
When power comes back on you may have to reset your clocks, VCR's, microwave ovens, programmable thermostats, burglar and/or fire alarms.

Suspicious Activity
Watch for suspicious activity. Criminals may decide to take advantage of the power outage. Always call 911 if you notice suspicious activity.

Circuit Breakers
If your power goes out, check your home's circuit breakers or fuses first. Your power could be out because a circuit has tripped or a fuse has blown.

Report Electrical Outages
See if the lights in your neighborhood are off. Contact PG&E at 800.743.5002 for information or to report an outage.

Downed Power Lines
If you can see any power lines on the ground, stay at least 10 feet away from them as electricity might still be flowing through the lines.

Sensitive Appliances
Protect appliances from possible power surges when electricity is restored. Once a blackout is announced, unplug appliances and computers, if possible, and turn off lights. Leave one low wattage incandescent light on so you know when the power comes back on.

Keep Food Cold
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to help prevent food spoilage. Refrigerated foods should remain safe to eat for four hours. Food in a closed freezer can stay frozen for up to two days. If in doubt, throw it out.

Dry Ice
Add dry or block ice to the freezer to help keep food frozen. Never add dry ice with your bare hands or place directly on top of food.

Discontinue nonessential water usage. Do not drink cloudy or dirty water. Don't be alarmed if chlorine level is higher than normal. Notify water officials of low or no water pressure.

Stay Cool
During hot days, stay cool indoors with windows open, and drink plenty of water.

Check on Neighbors
Be a good neighbor. Check on neighbors with special needs: the elderly, mobility-impaired, medically dependent or children who are home alone.

Life Support Equipment
If someone in your household uses life support equipment, make arrangements with the provider or your doctor for a back-up power supply. In addition, all hospitals are required to have back-up power. Medically dependent persons without adequate back-up power can call 911 for transport to a hospital where power can be supplied until the outage is over.

Alternate Power
Establish independent, short- term power supplies such as battery-operated devices for most needs. Since planned outages are of short duration, plan to forego activities that require power until the outage is over. Use caution when using a generator. Safe and legal fuel storage requires careful planning. If you must use a generator, NEVER plug it into any electric outlet in your home. Plug appliances directly into the generator using heavy-duty extension cords. Be sure to place the generator outdoors and away from windows, household exhaust fans or dryer vents.

Monitor Radio and Television
Monitor battery operated radio or television for current information on the outage.

Be sure that you have at least one telephone that does not depend on electricity in case you need to call 911. Cordless telephones will not function during an outage. Keep your cell phone powered up.

If you use candles for lighting, place them on a fireproof surface.

If you use your fireplace for heat, be responsible! Don't burn wood with paint or stain. Do not leave an open flame. Make sure you close your fireplace screen to prevent sparks from flying. Do not store newspapers, kindling, or matches near the fireplace.

Smoke Detectors
Make sure you have smoke detectors in appropriate rooms. Change the batteries regularly, preferably every six months, and test them monthly. If your smoke detectors are wired directly into the electrical system of your home, they will not operate during a power failure unless the batteries are working. Special smoke detectors are available for people with hearing impairment.

Fire Extinguisher
Have a fire extinguisher available and know how to use it. Have a fire evacuation plan and practice fire drills.

Garage Door
Know how to manually release and open any electric doors, like garage doors.

Traffic Signals
During an area-wide power outage, traffic signals may be out. If so, remember the intersection becomes a four-way stop. Anticipate long traffic delays where the power is out.

Keep Cash on Hand
Keep cash and coins on hand. In power failures, ATM's and gas station pumps may not work and you may need to make a phone call at a pay phone.

Avoid Peak Energy Periods
Try to conserve electricity between the hours of 5 - 9 AM and 4 - 7 PM.

If you have a disability, being prepared can reduce the fear, panic, and inconvenience that surround an emergency.

Backup Power Supplies
Learn what you can do in a power outage. Know how to start or connect a backup power supply for essential medical equipment.

Keep a flashlight or light stick handy to signal your whereabouts to other people and for illumination to aid in signing or written communication.

Self Help Network
Create a self help network of relatives, friends or coworkers. Discuss your disability and ask for their assistance in an emergency. Arrange for someone to check on you in an emergency.

Teach Others How to Help You
Teach others how to operate necessary equipment. Give a key to a neighbor or friend who may be able to assist you. Make sure they know where you keep emergency supplies.

Hearing Impaired
Remind friends that you cannot hear warnings or emergency instructions. Ask them to be your source of emergency information as it comes over their radio.

Medical Alert Systems
Consider getting a medical alert system that will allow you to call if you are immobilized in an emergency. If you have a severe speech, language, or hearing disability, learns how to use TDD telephone services. Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to identify your disability

If you use a wheelchair, show friends how to operate your wheelchair so they can move you if necessary. Make sure your friends know the size of your wheelchair in case it has to be transported.

Personal Attendants
If you use a personal care attendant obtained from an agency, check to see if the agency has special provisions for emergencies such as power outages.

Life Sustaining Equipment
Know the location and availability of more than one facility if you are dependent on a dialysis machine or other life-sustaining equipment or treatment.

If you have an assistance dog, be aware that the dog may become confused or disoriented in an emergency. Store extra food, water and supplies for your dog.