How to Prepare for Possible PG&E Power Shutdowns

How to Prepare for Possible PG&E Power Shutdowns

PG&E has warned California residents and businesses that it may shut down the power grid for as long as five days for large portions of the state when there are high-wind conditions during the dry fire season. That’s because PG&E’s infrastructure was found to be the cause of several recent California wildfires. PG&E has sent letters to residents and business in the Central Valley, Bay Area, Sacramento area, Foothills, Northern counties and beyond informing them that “if extreme fire danger conditions threaten a portion of the electric system serving your community, it will be necessary for us to turn off electricity in the interest of public safety.” With the specter of multiple-day power outages, all businesses need to be prepared for keeping their operations going and preventing losses that may not be covered by insurance.

For almost any business, a loss of power for an extended period of time could destroy its ability to conduct operations. Just think how difficult it would be if you lost access to your computers, which are the nervous system of any business today. If you have no power, your operations could be shuttered for all intents and purposes. At home, one thing you have to remember is that if any of your food or perishables go bad or if you suffer other damage because of the lack of electricity, your homeowner’s insurance will likely not cover the damage. There are several steps you can take to make sure your business and home are resilient and can keep functioning during power outages, especially if they last a few days:

Identify key business processes

Since you have the advantage of knowing in advance that there could be a long-lasting power outage, you can take steps now to identify business processes that will be greatly inconvenienced by the outage. These processes will differ from business to business, but once you have them down in writing, it will be easier for you to make a plan to keep those functions going.

Create a continuity plan

Once you’ve identified those processes, brainstorm on how you can keep them going without your typically reliable power supply. In order to get back to normal operations swiftly, employees should know how to respond to the power outage. Create a step-by-step list of things, with proper designation to employees in the event of an outage. Set up emergency numbers in sight for employees to call, including your electricity supplier to get an estimate on when power may be restored.

Set up a back-up power system

To make sure you can continue operating, you should consider investing in a back-up generator. With a generator, you can continue to run critical aspects of a small business during a power outage, but they must be operated safely. Generators need to be used with adequate ventilation to avoid risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Never plug generators directly into power outlets, as this can injure workers. Never use a generator under wet conditions, and always let them cool off before refueling.

Cloud storage and MiFi

If you have not done so, you should secure a means of paperless document and file storage on the cloud. If there is a power outage and an accompanying surge, you could quickly lose your data. Plan ahead with a cloud server. Also, prepare a system of personal wireless hotspots, or MiFi devices, so that even if the internet goes down, you can finish important tasks online, such as setting up an email auto-response.

Make a survival kit

Creating an inventory of supplies for times when the power is out can help protect your employees and operations. Consider having on hand:

  • Cash
  • Medical supplies
  • Extra gas
  • Portable batteries for devices
  • Water
  • Flashlights
  • Rope and other basic items

The kit should be kept in an easy-to-reach place, and employees should be trained on where it is and how to use it.

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