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Staying safe and healthy during a Public Safety Power Shutoff

As Red Flag conditions continue into the weekend, some 24,000 people are bracing for a potential Public Safety Power Shutoff in Santa Barbara County.

If we lose power for several days, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has some tips to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy. The big take away here, have a plan and don’t wait until the last minute or that last five percent.

Teri McDuffie’s mom just dealt with a Public Safety Power Shutoff in Santa Rosa, so she’s stealing her shopping and to-do list.

“Lots of ice, candles, flashlights, gassing the car, making sure everything is charged up,” said McDuffie, a Santa Barbara County resident.

McDuffie lives in between two at-risk zones. She says she’s a little stressed about it but she’s preparing just in case.

“I kind of feel that they’re overreaching but if it’s important for all of us to do in order to keep us safer than that’s what we need to do,” said McDuffie.

If there is a prolonged power outage, some of that perishable food McDuffie just bought may have to be tossed out.

“Four hours a refrigerator will keep food safe without power and a freezer depending on how full it is, can go 12 to 24 hours,” said Kendra Wise, Supervising Environmental Health Specialist, Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

To avoid getting sick Wise says when in doubt throw it out and suggests freezing what you can now.

“If the power is out, restaurants in the area will be closed and cafeterias will be closed but grocery stores would probably be able to stay open,” said Wise.

If you rely on a ventilator, CPAP or blood sugar monitoring device or a powered wheelchair, it’s important to have a plan.

“Whether that’s finding an alternative location to charge their devices or visiting a friend’s house to charge their devices and make sure their medications, all the things that they would need to be taken care of for a three to five day period potentially, that they have what they need to survive,” said Nick Clay, Director of Emergency Medical Services, Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

In other words, take charge before you lose charge.

“Now is the time to cautiously and methodically think about how to prepare should the power go out,” said Clay.

Make sure you’re signed up for alerts with Ready SBC and if you have a question call your power or medical device provider so you’re not tying up an emergency line.

KEYT 2019

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