How to get Ready for Planned Power Outages SF!

July 15, 2019

Yesterday much of Manhattan was without power causing traffic lights, subway trains and elevators to stop.  New Yorkers were encouraged to avoid driving while NYFD responded to numerous transformer fires and rescued people trapped in elevators and subway cars.  But New Yorkers handled the inconvenience in stride, from helping to direct traffic to impromptu Broadway Theater performances on the street, and within a few hours power was restored.

Have you considered what you would do in the event of a long-term power outage in San Francisco?  If not, now is the time to plan for several (or more) days without electricity; especially as we head into wildfire season. The fact is PG&E will shut down electricity during extreme weather or wildfire conditions for the sake of public safety. Although San Francisco is not at risk for wildfires, we do share the same power grid with our east bay neighbors who are vulnerable. And that means San Francisco also would be without power while wild fire weather patterns persists.  

These planned power outages would affect our homes, businesses and public places. We know the disruption and hardship an electric outage may affect some more than others. This is why it is important for those who can be prepared at home do so. Taking steps to prepare will allow the City to prioritize meeting the needs of our most at-risk populations. The good news is you are probably more prepared than you think for power outages—and what you do to prepare for utility disruption also counts for earthquake preparedness. Here’s how to get ready for a planned public safety power shutdown:

Before an Electric Outage

  • Keep a flashlight with extra, fresh batteries in a convenient place. Avoid using candles because of the risk of fire.
  • Stock up on non­perishable food that does not require cooking and make sure you have a manual can opener.
  • Store water-filled plastic containers in your freezer.You can use them as blocks of ice to prevent food from spoiling.
  • Keep your mobile phone charged as much as possible and consider getting back up batteries and/or portable phone chargers. Also, keep important phone numbers written down and handy (e.g., doctor, family, friends, or anyone you may need to call, but do not have their phone numbers memorized).
  • Protect sensitive electronic equipment, such as televisions and computers, with surge suppressors. Unplug this equipment if it was in use when the power went out.
  • Have cash in small denominations on hand and a full tank of gas, in the event ATMs and gas stations are unavailable.
  • Make sure you can manually (without power) open your automatic garage door or gate, or park your vehicle outside.
  • Inform PG&E if you have a generator, and do not use it unless you are sure it was installed safely and correctly. An incorrectly installed generator can damage your property and endanger you and PG&E's line workers who may be working on nearby power lines. You can find information on the safe installation of generators at
  • Sign up for AlertSF by texting your zip code to 888-777 or by visiting AlertSF will send you alerts and instructions during power outages and other emergencies.

During an Electric Outage

  • Check on your neighbors, friends and family who may need assistance during the outage.
  • Turn off major appliances such as air conditioners, washers, and dryers prior to the outage. This will prevent them from coming on unexpectedly when electricity is restored.
  • Turn off heat producing appliances (e.g., ovens, stove tops and irons) prior to the outage. This will eliminate a fire hazard when electricity comes back on.
  • Make sure food stays cold by keeping your refrigerator and freezer doors closed. You can keep the refrigerator cold by placing ice in plastic containers and keeping them inside. Also, a full freezer will remain colder longer.
  • Notify your alarm company if you have an alarm system as equipment can be affected by power outages.
  • If you are experiencing a medical, police, or fire emergency call 911.

After an Electric Outage

  • Reset clocks, thermostats and other programmed equipment after power is restored.New York City without power

For more information, visit