Preparing Your Residents for Power Outages

Posted By: Tiffany Van Buren Housing Provider Tips,

Berkeley has been dealing with some extreme weather events, from wildfires and windstorms to rising water tables and atmospheric rivers. A couple weeks ago a perfect storm of rains and high winds produced mud slides and felled trees, taking out power lines and plunging much of Berkeley into darkness. In moments such as this some residents seem bewildered, unable to correlate the storm with the loss of power.  They submit a maintenance request, hoping a quick flip of a breaker switch will solve the issue, and are distressed to learn they have to wait on PG&E to fix the outage because they were not prepared to handle a complete loss of electricity.

 I’ve put together this “Power Outage Preparedness” checklist with some helpful tips for you to pass on to your residents so they can feel a little better the next time they’re hit with an unexpected or planned power outage.

  • If PG&E is in their name, they can sign up for PG&E Outage Alerts. It’s free.
  • Don’t panic, and don’t call your housing provider. PG&E will send crews to assess the situation and work on restoring power as quickly and safely as possible. There is nothing your landlord can do.
  • Make sure all heat-producing appliances (ovens, stove tops, irons) are OFF to prevent fire when power is restored.
  • Unplug computers and other electronics that could be damaged by a surge in power when power is restored.
  • If it’s cold outside, keep window coverings closed to preserve heat.
  • Have battery or solar-powered light sources on hand for emergencies. Avoid using candles! The last thing you need is an apartment fire during a power outage. Stick to safe alternative light sources.
  • Keep a power bank charged for your cell phone & laptop.
  • Keep your fridge door closed. The more frequently the door is opened, the warmer it will become inside the fridge.
  • Keep non-perishable food that doesn’t require cooking on hand for emergencies.
  • To extend the shelf-life of perishables, place bagged ice in bowls in the fridge.
  • Put your milk/things you want frequent access to in a cooler with a bag of ice.
  • If you have a gas stove, you can use a match to carefully light a burner. Better yet, keep a battery-powered electric “plasma” igniter on hand– they’re safe and inexpensive.
  • Wear extra layers of clothes to stay warm. Wrap up with a blanket.
  • If it is safe to be on the roadways, spend time at a friend’s house who has power, visit a café, or go to the library.

No one enjoys power outages, but with some advanced planning, they can be a lot less stressful. So, when nasty weather is in the forecast or you hear about an upcoming planned PG&E outage, sharing these tips with your residents can save you the frustration from answering those “Sorry, there’s nothing I can do!” phone calls, and give your residents the opportunity to get themselves better prepared.