Communication Tools & Tips in a Power Outage

Posted on October 26, 2019

10/26/19:  As of this evening, almost all of the City of Sonoma continues to have power.  However, several areas of Sonoma Valley have been de-energized, and the predicted high wind conditions over the next 24-36 hours may result in unplanned power outages.  Because potential disruptions to electricity, internet service, or cell service can impact the ways we communicate and receive information, please keep in mind the following:

  • Keep your cell phone charged by using a portable charging battery or power bank. Use of texts, rather than phone calls, reduces the drain on your battery.  The City and County will open a device-charging station from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sunday 10/27 at the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Building, 126 1st St West, which has generator power.  PG&E will  open a “community resource center” at Hanna Boys Center for charging devices.
  • Cell service may be temporarily lost or degraded in some areas during a power outage. Most cellular carriers have backup generators or batteries to keep towers operational even when the local power grid goes down, but recent experience has shown that coverage can be spotty. If a neighbor has a different carrier than you, their cell phone may be working even when yours is not.
  • VoIP systems (phone service that requires an internet connection) typically provide only a few hours of standby service when the power goes out, and then only if they’re equipped with an in-home battery backup and only if your internet service stays operational. If you have a Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) landline phone from the phone company, you should still have phone service when you lose electricity — but if you only have cordless phones connected, those won’t work during a power outage because the unit requires electricity. Talk with your neighbors to learn who has a traditional corded landline phone. Keep a hard copy of phone numbers for your key contacts that are stored on your cell phone.
  • Our community radio station, KSVY at 91.3 FM, is an excellent source for updates during a power outage through use of your car radio or battery-powered radio. (KSVY also has an app that can be downloaded to your phone). If KSVY loses power at their transmitter location they will broadcast from 8am to 8pm daily on generator; otherwise they will be be on their regular 24 hour schedule.
  • Most City facilities have at least some generator power and, to the extent possible, will remain open in an extended power outage during normal business hours to serve customers and answer questions. On Sunday 10/27, the City will provide updates in printed form using posters, notice boards, or other signage at the Veteran’s Building and potentially at other locations around town.
  • During a prolonged power outage, the ability of public safety officials to reach you using traditional alert and warning tools may be limited.  In the City of Sonoma and the rest of Sonoma County, public safety vehicles are outfitted with Hi/Lo sirens, which offer a different sound than traditional sirens, and will be used to alert residents to evacuate. This 2-tone siren will only be used in an emergency to alert residents within specific areas of the need to evacuate. If you hear the Hi/Lo, it’s time to go.

If you have difficulty reaching 9-1-1, keep in mind these options:

If you are having a medical emergency, go to the Sonoma Valley Hospital Emergency Room, 347 Andrieux Street. The hospital has an emergency generator in the event of power outage.

If you are having a public safety emergency, go to the Police Department, 175 First Street West. The Police Department will be open during normal business hours. Outside of normal business hours, there is an accessible phone.

Go to your local firehouse to report an emergency. Sonoma Valley Fire & Rescue Authority firehouses will be open during normal business hours. Outside of normal business hours, there is an accessible phone outside that connects to dispatch.

    • Station #1 – 630 2nd St W, Sonoma, CA 95476
    • Station #2 – 877 Center St, Sonoma, CA 95476
    • Station #3 – 1 Agua Caliente Rd W, Sonoma, CA 95476
    • Station #4 – 18798 Prospect Dr, Sonoma, CA 95476
    • Station #5 – 13445 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, CA
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