Brownouts and Power Failure in Sonoma County – What to do and how to prepare! Banner
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Brownouts and Power Failure in Sonoma County – What to do and how to prepare!

Safety this summer is not just limited to using sunscreen and fire safety. What about Santa Rosa brownouts?

You may get the terms blackout and brownout confused or believe the terms to be interchangeable. During a brownout, the level of voltage provided by your power company is significantly reduced to accommodate the wide level of use. This sort of disruption in service typically happens during the summer when air conditioning units are used more frequently and for longer periods. It also can occur during severe weather conditions. A blackout is when voltage is completely gone until it is restored. Having a little bit of power during a brownout may seem like the better solution. Is this actually true?

Here’s a scary statistic: the United States’ largest blackout occurred in the dog days of August in 2003 and affected an estimated 50 million people in Canada, Ohio, Michigan, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.

The downsides to a brownout include potentially damaging your appliances. Electrical products can malfunction when power is flickering back and forth, causing permanent damage and potentially a fire hazard. Certain devices, such as televisions and computers, cannot handle the shift of power or regulate the amount of power they receive.

How can you prepare for a brownout or blackout this summer?

You never know when you’re going to need to leave during a disaster. No matter the time of year, keeping your gas tank at half capacity at all times is highly recommended. Power failures can also happen during thunderstorms and winter blizzard conditions. Being on the road during these events is very life threatening. Only use travel as a last resort.

Stock up your pantry on water, flashlights, batteries and non-perishable foods, as well as methods to cook that don’t use electricity, so you can keep your family fed. Disposable utensils and dinnerware may be helpful, so you don’t need to use water to wash dishes. If you use a well powered by electricity, this tip will be extremely helpful.

What should you do during a brownout?

During a brownout, turn off all electronic devices and appliances including washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves, dryers and ovens. Reducing your power consumption as much as possible will reduce the demand for power, thus shortening the length of the brownout. It’s also possible the brownout can turn into a blackout due to others using power so prepare for either event.

Use flashlights instead of candles to avoid fire damage.

Install power strips to protect your devices when power is restored. A whole-home surge protector will also protect your entire home from a power surge after a brownout. There may be times when you’re not near your home during a brownout so this solution is one you can do today; “future” you will be grateful you did!

Keep your fridge and freezer closed as often as possible to prevent food from thawing too quickly.

Keep one light turned to the “on” position so you know when power is restored.

Once your power is restored, immediately dispose of unsafe food and assess your home for any damages.


Having all this information ahead of time will protect you, your home and belongings this summer. Get prepared today!