Preparing for a Multi-Day Power Outage

Power outages can occur for a variety of reasons including earthquake, winter storm, or Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS). Putting together a power outage plan now can help protect your health and safety in the event of a power failure. 

What is a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS)? 

Southern California Edison and PG&E recently developed plans to shutoff power during critical fire weather in order to reduce the risk of wildfire. The Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) could lead to multi-day outages in many areas during periods of extremely hot, dry and/or windy weather. A PSPS outage will last as long as the potentially dangerous weather conditions exist, plus the amount of times it takes for power company workers to inspect and repair their equipment in the affected area(s). Residents need to be prepared to endure a power outage lasting 3-5 days

Read Preparing for PSPS Fact Sheet from Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management for more information. 

What does this mean for Santa Barbara County residents? 

  • Power outages impact the whole community and can make it difficult for people to meet their basic needs, as well as: 
  • Disrupt communications, water, air conditioning and transportation
  • Close retail business, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs, banks and other services
  • Cause food spoilage and water contamination 
  • Prevent the use of medical devices such as oxygen concentrators and other devices
  • Prevent the use of elevators, garage doors, electric gates and doors, etc. 

2020 Power Outage Workshop Resources

Preparing for Power Outage: Persons Dependent on Electricity

Planning Flyer: Preparing for Power Outage: Persons Dependent on Electricity English and Spanish 

What if you depend on electricity for a medical device? 

During a PSPS ALL customers serviced by an affected power line will have their power shut off. If you rely on electric or battery dependent devices such as oxygen concentrator, ventilator, electric wheelchair, at home dialysis, refrigerated medications and many other devices; it is critical that you have a plan in place for a multi-day power outage. If you rely on electricity and battery dependent medical devices and assistive technology we encourage you to start preparing now by doing the following: 

This can include: oxygen concentrator, CPAP, electric wheelchairs, garage door, refrigerated medications, elevator, ventilator, at-home dialysis, and many other devices. 
  • Battery operated flashlights or lanterns
  • Back up batteries for electrical medical equipment
  • Back up oxygen tank, tubing and mask
  • Car charger for devices and external battery pack to charge phone
  • Cash in small bills

These items are in addition to your general disaster supply kits at:

Sign up for Santa Barbara County emergency notifications and alerts a: and Nixle (text your zipcode to 888777).
If you are dependent on a medical device, be sure to register with your power company. Ask about the medical baseline program.
Talk to your healthcare provider, home health, or hospice agency about your power outage plan.
  • Find out how long your medications will be OK without refrigeration; get specific guidance for critical medications
Ask your medical equipment provider and/or home health or hospice provider about their plans to assist you in emergencies:
  • Get daytime and after-hours emergency phone numbers for your provider
Remember: Hospitals should not be a source of electrical support or oxygen during a power outage.
  • Read your medical equipment manual and identify options you have for back-up power
  • Purchase back-up batteries, if possible, for your device and keep them charged
  • Plan for a local and out of area location where you can access power. Confirm places to stay at varying distances from your home. The closest places may not be usable because they may also be impacted. 
  • If you have an assistive device such as an electric wheelchair, try to select locations where you can access power that are accessible and will meet your needs 
  • Identify what transportation you will use to got to a location with electricity- this could include your own car, friend, family or transportation service you use on a regular basis 
  • Be sure to ask if you support team can provide you with transportation.
    • Ensure they have room for you in their vehicle in addition to themselves are their family.
    • Check that their vehicles are accessible to you and your equipment 
  • Remember to keep car gas tanks at least half full and encourage your support team to do the same
  • Gas stations cannot pump gas during outages
  • Create a support team of people willing to help each other during an emergency.  This can include friends, family, caregivers, personal assistants and other others at places you spend your time. If you create a large team, you are more likely to get help when you need it. 
  • Plan how you will communicate with your support team at home, at work etc. via: landline phone, cell phone, email, social media, text message etc. 
  • Phones may not work so arrange for your support team to check in on you
  • Complete My Power Outage Emergency Plan with a list of support team and other important phone numbers
  • Learn how to use an maintain the generator ahead of time
  • Have an adequate fuel supply and store in safely
  • Always use the generator outdoors, at least 20 feet away from a window
  • Generator Safety and Usage Guidelines
Give it a run-through! Practice contacting your support team.

Additional Resources: