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PG&E gearing up for potential outages as holiday storms roll through NorCal

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BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - PG&E is preparing for winter storms and says you should too. Its meteorologists are predicting heavy snow and gusty winds that could cause power outages.

Action News Now has seen how bad the weather can get.

In Magalia last week - some folks lost power for at least three days because of the heavy snow.

In order to prevent that from happening again - PG&E will make sure it has extra power poles, power lines, and transformers so they can get power back up as quickly as possible.

The utility also says it will postpone any maintenance work so crews can be fully available throughout the holidays.

PG&E is predicting that snow will fall in lower elevations Friday into Saturday, along with winds as high as 45 miles per hour.

These winter storms have the potential to cause trees, limbs, and other debris to fall into power lines, damage equipment, and interrupt electric service, according to PG&E.

PG&E has also developed what it calls its "Storm Outage Prediction Model" that incorporates real-time weather forecasts, enabling the company to pre-stage crews and equipment as storms approach to enable quick response to outages.

There are some tips you can do before the storm approaches, look below:

  • Never touch downed wires: 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 9-1-1 and then PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
  • Secure outdoor furniture: Deck furniture, lightweight yard structures and decorative lawn items should be secured as they can be blown by high winds and damage overhead power lines and property.
  • Use generators safely: Customers with standby electric generators should ensure they are properly installed by a licensed electrician in a well-ventilated area. Improperly installed generators pose a significant danger to customers, as well as crews working on power lines. If using portable generators, be sure they are in a well-ventilated area.
  • Use flashlights, not candles: During a power outage, use battery-operated flashlights, and not candles, due to the risk of fire. And keep extra batteries on hand. If you must use candles, please keep them away from drapes, lampshades, animals and small children. Do not leave candles unattended.
  • Have a backup phone: If you have a telephone system that requires electricity to work, such as a cordless phone or answering machine, plan to have a standard telephone or cellular phone ready as a backup. Having a portable charging device helps to keep your cell phone running.
  • Have fresh drinking water, ice: Freeze plastic containers filled with water to make blocks of ice that can be placed in your refrigerator/freezer during an outage to prevent foods from spoiling. Blue Ice from your picnic cooler also works well in the freezer.
  • Turn off appliances: If you experience an outage, unplug or turn off all electrical appliances to avoid overloading circuits and to prevent fire hazards when power is restored. Simply 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.
  • Safely clean up: After the storm has passed, be sure to safely clean up. Never touch downed wires and always call 8-1-1 or visit at least two full business days before digging to have all underground utilities safely marked.

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