Power Outages

Sonoma County is an incredible place to live with its diversity of people, amazing food, beautiful weather, and abundance of outdoor activity options.  While this is a great place to live, the risk of wildfire and earthquakes are unpleasant realities for which we must be prepared.  In the event of an emergency, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), our electricity provider, may plan a power outage for Sonoma State and the surrounding community as a way to reduce the risk of starting or exacerbating a wild fire; or preventing additional harm in the aftermath of an earthquake.  The following tips will help you be prepared and stay as safe as possible if the power is turned off.

Personal Preparedness Kit

The University highly recommends that every resident bring their own Personal Preparedness Kit with them when they move into the Residential Community. This kit should include three days worth of supplies, such as water and food, basic first aid supplies, and any special need items. For more information on making this kit and preparing yourself for 3 days, review our Personal Preparedness Kit web page, 3 Days Checklist  , and/or visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security web site.

Staying Safe in the Dark

  • If a power outage occurs, remain calm and notify Campus Safety and Security.
  • Keep a flashlight with fresh batteries in your room.
  • Provide assistance to others in your immediate area who may be unfamiliar with their surroundings.
  • If you are in an unlighted area, proceed cautiously to an area that has emergency lights.
  • If you are in an elevator, stay calm. Use the emergency button or telephone to alert University officials.
  • If normal communication channels (electronic) are disrupted, information will be available / posted in a central location in the Student Center.
  • In the case of a black-out, always follow the instructions of University personnel.
  • Students should consider the personal impact of having no electric service for an extended period of time as restoration time could be multiple days. As a general rule, it is advised to have a personal supply of non-perishable food and water for up to 3 days.

General Food Safety Guidelines

  • Keep refrigerator doors closed. Refrigerated food should be safe for about 4 hours. But milk, dairy products, eggs, meats and all cooked foods spoil quickly. Discard these foods if the temperature in the refrigerator rises above 40 degrees for two hours or more.
  • When in doubt, throw the food out.
  • Keep the freezer doors closed. Food in a full, free-standing freezer will stay at freezing temperatures for about 48 hours without power, a half-full freezer will stay frozen about 24 hours. If a freezer is not full, move packages together to insulate them and keep them as cold as possible.
  • Frozen foods that have partially or completely thawed before power is restored may be refrozen safely if there are still ice crystals or the food’s temperature is 40 degrees or below.
  • The following foods may be kept at room temperature a few days although food quality may be affected:
    • Butter or margarine Hard and processed cheeses
    • Fresh uncut fruits and vegetables
    • Dried fruits and coconut
    • Opened jars of vinegar-based salad dressings, jelly, relish, taco sauce, barbecue sauce, mustard, ketchup, olives and peanut butter
    • Fruit juices
    • Fresh herbs and spices
    • Fruit pies, breads, rolls, and muffins
    • Cakes, except cream cheese frosted or cream-filled
    • Flour and nuts
  • NOTE: As stated in the Student Housing License Agreement, the University does not provide insurance to cover the personal or property damage of Licensee (including food in a refrigerator). Therefore, University highly recommends you obtain insurance, such as a renter’s policy.

Other Tips

  • Do not use charcoal or gas grills inside closed areas, including garages and porches, due to carbon monoxide risks.
  • Have several flashlights on hand with fresh batteries. Do not use candles!
  • Unplug computers/laptops, TVs, gaming systems, and other sensitive appliances. This will minimize the risk of possible damage to the devices when power is restored.
  • Turn off all but one light so that you'll know when electricity has been restored.
  • Turn off all heat producing appliances like electric irons and heaters to prevent fires in case no one is home when power is restored.

*Much of this resource information was compiled by University of Evansville staff members - we appreciate this resource

What happens if I lose power in my suite or apartment?

Please be sure to keep your phones well charged and flashlights handy if the power does go out. If your building does lose power, facilities and power company crews will begin working to restore power.  If this is a planned power outage due to wildfire prevention, the university will share with you how much time is anticipated for the outage (information provided by Pacific Gas and Electric Company).

Will I need to leave my housing unit during a shut off?

No, you will not need to leave the Residential Community.  Even though power may be out and classes may be cancelled temporarily, our staff remain here to help keep the community safe and secure. We recommend keeping a Personal Preparedness Kit updated in case of an outage.  Please see the Personal Preparedness Kit webpage for more details.

Can I leave campus or is this considered a shelter in place?

You are welcome to leave campus during a power outage.  We ask that you exercise caution navigating around campus (and off-campus) as power may be out elsewhere.  If the university believes your safety is in danger and that a “Shelter in Place” notice is appropriate, this information will be communicated with you.

Are flashlights available?

Residential Education and Campus Housing staff members have flashlights in cases of emergency.  They are not able to be loaned out to residents.  If an emergency, please contact your RA or the RA on Duty who can meet you and help you find what you need with their flashlight.

REACH staff highly recommending having a flashlight (or other portable, battery powered light) available.

What do I do if I have a disability or other need for extra assistance?

If it is an emergency, call 9-1-1.  Otherwise, the University will have a hotline in place so you may inform us of your specific needs during a power outage so we can work to make accommodations for you.

What if I have medication that needs to be refrigerated?

The Student Health Center has a generator for back-up power.  You can bring your medication there while power is out.

What if I have medical devices that require electricity?

Please contact your RA on Duty who will connect you with your Area Coordinator.  This full-time staff member can help you with your specific needs while the power is out.

Will there be an area I can charge my electronics?

The University will promptly identify a location for electronic device charging and will share these locations with all residents.

Will my housing unit still have hot water?

No, while water heaters across campus utilize propane to operate, there are components that require electricity.  Therefore, once a water heater has exhausted the warm water (or enough time passes), there will be no hot water for showers, washing dishes, etc.

Will the toilets in my housing unit still flush?

Yes, the water system is not linked to the electrical system except to heat the water. You may flush and wash your hands during an outage but you will not have hot water.

Can I burn candles in my unit during a power shut off?

No, candles (as well as torches and all other exposed flames) are still against University policy during a power outage. The risk of causing a fire is even greater during this time.

Will Lobo’s Pantry still be operating?

For the Fall 2020 semester, Lobo's Pantry is accepting online orders for non-perishable goods only. Pickup of pre-packaged goods occurs on Thursdays only. Please go to Lobo's Pantry for more information. 

Can I bring a personal generator to campus?

No, because of the increased danger for students living on campus.  As stated in the Residential Education and Campus Housing Regulations and Guidelines, flammable or dangerous materials are prohibited; and as generators generally use gasoline, kerosene, or propane, these devices are not allowed within our around our community to keep our residents as safe as possible.