March 5, 2013 - Two cold weather systems from the Gulf of Alaska are forecast to bring rain, wind, lightning and low snow to Northern California beginning Tuesday afternoon on the North Coast and continuing through Friday in the Central Valley. These adverse weather conditions could result in falling trees or lightning strikes taking down power lines and interrupting electric service.
To prepare for such storms and minimize outages, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has extensive training, preventive maintenance and tree pruning programs. Each year, the utility inspects every mile of line in its service area—more than 130,000 miles total—and spends more than $180 million to reduce the hazards from trees.
When outages do occur, PG&E employees remain focused on ensuring public safety, determining the extent of the damage, providing customers with timely and accurate information, and restoring service as quickly as possible.
During outages, PG&E communicates with customers regularly and through many channels about when power is expected to be restored. Customers can call our 24-hour Outage Service Line at 1-800-743-5002 to report an outage, to report a hazardous condition or to get the latest information on outages in their community. Outage information is also available online through a live outage map and storm guide at www.pge.com/outages; through PG&E's Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/pge4me; and through PG&E's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pacificgasandelectric.
PG&E offers these suggestions to help customers get ready for the oncoming storms:
· If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and extremely dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it—and keep children and animals away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 911 and PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
· Do not use candles during a power outage because of the risk of fire. If you must use candles, use extreme caution. Do not use candles near drapes or under lampshades. Keep candles away from small children and do not leave candles unattended.
· If your power goes out, turn off or unplug all electric appliances; otherwise, several appliances may come back on at once and overload your circuits when power is restored. Hot appliances also pose a fire hazard if they come back on while you're away or asleep. Leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
· Have battery-operated radios with fresh batteries ready for updates on storm conditions and power outages.
· Have battery-operated flashlights with fresh batteries on hand.
· Have a cell phone or hard-wire, single-line telephone on hand. Cordless phones will not work without electricity.
· Fill used liter-size plastic soda bottles with water and place them in the freezer. During an extended outage, transfer them to your refrigerator to prevent food from spoiling. Open the refrigerator only when necessary to keep warm air out and cooler air in.
· If you have a generator, inform PG&E and do not use it unless it is installed safely and properly. If it is not, you risk damaging your property and endangering yourself and PG&E line workers who may be working on nearby power lines. Information on the safe installation of generators can be found on our website at http://www.pge.com/generator.
With the colder weather, PG&E also urges customers to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas produced by the burning of fossil fuels and wood. In general, properly installed and maintained natural gas appliances produce very little to no carbon monoxide. However, if unsafe concentrations of carbon monoxide are not detected, the result can be fatal.
PG&E reminds customers to make sure all natural gas furnaces and appliances are in working order. Customers should inspect the flame on gas appliances. A blue flame indicates complete combustion and that the appliance is working properly. A lazy, yellow or white flame is a warning sign that the appliance is not burning properly and could be producing carbon monoxide.
If customers suspect a problem with a natural gas appliance in their home, they should call PG&E immediately at 1-800-743-5000. A gas service representative will be dispatched to do a thorough inspection.
To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, PG&E offers the following safety tips:
· Install a carbon monoxide detector, which will warn you when concentrations become dangerously high. California law requires owners of all single-family homes with an attached garage or a fossil fuel source and all owners of multi-family dwellings to install carbon monoxide detectors within the home.
· Place detectors near sleeping areas, where they can wake you if you are asleep.
· Never use products inside the home that generate dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, such as generators, barbecues, propane heaters and charcoal.
· When using the fireplace to stay warm, make sure the flue is open so that the byproducts of combustion can vent safely through the chimney.
· Ensure that generators are properly installed and operated outdoors.
· Do not idle cars inside the garage, and do not allow snow to block tailpipe emissions when operating a vehicle outdoors.
· Make sure water heaters and other natural gas appliances have proper ventilation. Older appliances and room heaters that are not vented externally should be inspected annually.
· As part of customers' gas service, PG&E representatives are available to inspect gas appliances and make sure they are working safely. To schedule an inspection, customers can visit the "My Energy" feature at www.pge.com or call 1-800-743-5000.
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