How do I deal with the potential loss of phone or internet service in an emergency or extended power outage?

During an emergency, disruptions to electricity, internet service, or cell service can impact the ways we communicate and receive information.  Some important reminders:

  • 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.
  • Our community radio station, KSVY at 91.3 FM, is an excellent source for updates during an emergency through use of your car radio or battery-powered radio. (KSVY also has an app that can be downloaded to your phone).
  • 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. In an extended power outage, the City and County may open a device-charging station at the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Building, 126 1st St West, which has generator power.  In a Public Safety Power Shutoff, PG&E may also open a “community resource center” in our area 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.
  • Most City facilities have at least some generator power and, to the extent possible, will remain open in an extended power outage during business hours to serve customers and answer questions. In an extended power outage or other emergency, the City will also attempt to provide updates in printed form using posters, notice boards, or other signage at City Hall and other locations around town.

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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