City of Pasadena Pasadena Water and Power

Emergency Preparedness

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Emergency Preparedness - General Concerns

Emergency Preparedness - Water Issues

Emergency Preparedness - Power Issues

City of Pasadena Homeland Security Advisory System

Electrical Safety

Emergency Preparedness - General Concerns

Are Pasadena’s water and power systems safe?  Pasadena’s water and power supplies are safeguarded on a daily basis to make sure our physical structures and assets are completely secure and operational.   If the community is impacted by an emergency, PWP is committed to do whatever it can to continue providing high-quality water and power to our customers.  You can feel secure in knowing that your safety is always our number one priority. 

With regard to water, all reservoirs are enclosed.  All wells, booster stations and reservoir operations are secured and monitored continuously using computerized telecommunications.   As part of our normal operating procedures, Field Staff regularly monitors the facilities for potential tampering and maintenance needs while our in-house water quality lab analyzes Pasadena’s water daily for a multitude of contaminants.   A vulnerability assessment presently being conducted will be used to identify additional security issues. 

For the power distribution systems, the practice of ensuring the integrity of the distribution system is not new. The power distribution system has been designed to ensure reliable service even in the face of adverse conditions. Staff is well- trained and skilled in response and recovery activities associated with loss of or damage to mission critical infrastructure, as seen in the recovery from the extensive damage caused in the recent wind storms.  Initial system vulnerability and risk assessments have been finalized along with the implementation of security measures to further maximize facility security.

All water and power facilities utilize a new multiple lock system and the perimeters are securely gated.  Access to any of these facilities is strictly limited to authorized personnel only.   There is also added security by local law enforcement and helicopter surveillance when necessary.  PWP also works in coordination with a network of critical agencies, such as; the Pasadena Police, Fire, and Public Health Departments, the California Independent System Operator Security Coordinator, the State of California Department of Health Services and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to prevent, detect and respond to emergencies.  PWP staff regularly monitors both state and federal information sources in order to be current on all applicable industry “best practices” for all facilities considered critical.  

How will customers be notified of an emergency?  If there is an emergency, the Pasadena Community will be notified in a number of ways.   PWP will alert all local media with the status of the emergency and describe any necessary precautions.  PWP’s website as well as our emergency telephone lines for water (744-4138) and power (744-4673) will also be utilized for updates. 

Depending on the extent of the emergency, we can also utilize the City Communication Center to contact Helicopter Units that are equipped with a loud speaker system to announce the emergency.  If the problem is limited to a few residents, a house- to- house notification will be conducted.

What can customers do to help and prepare?  If you see unfamiliar or suspicious activity adjacent to our water or power facilities, please report it right away. Depending on the severity of the situation, call our water or power emergency lines or call the Pasadena Police Department (744-4240). For emergencies needing immediate attention, dial 911.  It is important to exercise caution and personal safety in an emergency.  Keep emergency contact numbers in the same place.  Remember that cordless phones do not operate in cases of a blackout; have charged cell phones and/or standard corded telephones handy. Be sure to have bottled water available.   

If you have or are considering using a portable generator have a licensed electrician do any wiring needed to connect the generator to electric circuits. Read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions before your generator is connected to your electrical circuits. Do not connect the output of your generator directly to your house wiring or service panel. This can create electrical backfeed to the PWP distribution system and put field service crews in jeopardy of receiving severe or fatal electric shocks. If you have an electric generator that is, or can be, connected to your electrical wiring, immediately notify PWP of its location. 

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Emergency Preparedness - Water Issues

How much water should I store for an emergency?  Store at least one gallon per person per day, and prepare for a minimum of three days.

Is bottled water I buy at the grocery store suitable for storing?  Yes, bottled water you buy at the grocery store in sealed containers can be stored for one year.  The bottles should be kept in a cool dark place and should not be exposed to direct sunlight or fumes from petroleum products, pesticides, and herbicides. You should check the bottles periodically to be sure the plastic has not cracked or developed leaks.  If you think the bottles have leaked or if you see water loss due to evaporation, replace the bottles.

Is it safe to store tap water for use during emergencies?  Tap water served by PWP can be stored safely as long as you take the proper steps to sterilize the storage containers and treat the water before putting it in storage.

What should I store the water in?  Any clean, airtight container will work, but sturdy, opaque plastic bottles with screw-on caps are preferable.  Avoid glass containers that will break easily or paper containers (such as milk and juice cartons) that will weaken over time.  Make sure the container has been sterilized and rinsed well before filling.

How do I sterilize the containers before storing my emergency drinking water?   Follow the steps below to properly sterilize your containers before you fill it with tap water for storing. 

1.     Wash the containers with soapy water
2.    Rinse thoroughly.

    Fill the container half full with water and add 1 cup of chlorine bleach for each gallon the container holds.  NOTE: do not use scented laundry bleach, powdered bleach, or swimming pool chlorine - these contain additional chemicals that are poisonous.  Finish filling the container with water (all the way to the top).  Put the cap on and lay the bottle on its side for about 3 minutes.  This allows you to check if the container leaks while the bleach-water disinfects the cap. If the container leaks, do not use it.
4.       Pour the bleach-water into the next container to be sterilized.  The same disinfecting bleach-water can be used for several containers - simply "top off" the new container with water as needed. 
REMEMBER- This is not drinking water.  Pour the bleach solution down the drain when finished.

Now that my containers are sanitized, how do I treat the tap water I am planning to store?   Follow the steps below to properly treat the tap water you are storing for emergency use.

1.   Fill the sterilized bottle half full with tap water.

2.      Add 8 drops of chlorine bleach for each gallon the container holds. 
NOTE: Do not use scented laundry bleach, powdered bleach, colorsafe bleach, or swimming pool chlorine.  These contain additional chemicals that are poisonous.

3.    Finish filling the bottle with tap water.  Leave a small air space at the top of the container to allow for expansion if the water heats up slightly where you store it.

4.     Put the cap on tightly.

5.     Mark the date you filled the bottle on a piece of tape and attach it to the bottle.  This will allow you to know when it’s time to change the water you have stored.

The filled water containers should be stored in a cool, dark place and should not be exposed to sunlight or fumes of petroleum products, pesticides, and herbicides.  Remember to check the containers periodically to insure that the plastic has not cracked or developed leaks.  If the containers have cracked or are leaking, replace them.

How often should I change my stored water?  To ensure freshness, your emergency drinking water supply should be changed every six months if you are using tap water.  

I've used up my emergency water supply. Now what?   Several other sources of drinking water exist in your home. They include:

§      Water drained from your water heater.  The water heater can provide 30 to 40 gallons of water.

§      Melted ice cubes.

§      Liquids from canned fruits and vegetables.

The City has issued a "boil water notice".  What does this mean?   During an emergency, such as a major earthquake, the City may issue a "boil water notice" until we can verify that the water is not contaminated and is safe to drink.  During a "boil water notice," any tap water used for drinking or food preparation must be boiled at a full rolling boil for at least five full minutes.  A full rolling boil is a vigorous boil that can not be stopped by stirring the water.  If the water is very dirty looking and/or has particulate matter in it, you should filter the water through a coffee filter, paper towels, or clean cloth before boiling.  

If the emergency has left you with no way to boil the water or if you have limited fuel and do not want to use it for boiling water, what can you do?  You may treat the tap water with liquid chlorine household laundry bleach.   Note:  Do not use scented laundry bleach, powdered bleach, colorsafe bleaches, or swimming pool chlorine.  These contain additional chemicals that are poisonous.

How Much Liquid Chlorine Household Laundry Bleach to Add to the Water  

Amount of Water

Amount of Bleach to Add to Clear Water

Amount of Bleach to Add to Cloudy/Dirty Water

1 gallon

8 drops

16 drops

5 gallons

˝ teaspoons

1 teaspoon

After you add the bleach, thoroughly mix by stirring or shaking the container.  Let the water stand for 30 minutes before using.  A slight chlorine odor should be noticeable in the water.  If not, add another dosage of bleach and allow the water to stand another 15 minutes before using.

The water can also be treated with the use of water purification tablets or camping filters which can be purchased at most outdoors or sporting goods stores.  Follow the directions for use on the package you purchase.

Treat only enough water to meet your needs for 48 hours at a time.  There is an increased chance of re-contamination if the treated water sits for more than 48 hours. Refrigeration will also help avoid re-contamination.

Most home water filters are meant for water that is already micro-biologically safe. Using these filters during a "boil water notice" will not guarantee the safety of the water.  Replace any filter cartridges after the boil water notice has been lifted to insure your filter is not contaminated.

Are there any other important drinking water guidelines I should follow after a major earthquake?  It's always best to play it safe when it comes to your drinking water following a disaster.  Please keep the following "water-wise" tips in mind when considering your source and supply of emergency drinking water.

  • Even if you haven't received word of a "boil water notice" after a disaster, if your
    tap water seems cloudy or has an unpleasant odor, purify it before drinking
    or do not drink it at all.

  • Conserve your drinking water - even if your supply is uninterrupted.

  • If your water service is interrupted, shut off automatic sprinkler systems and turn off the water heater. 

  • Turn off the water supply to your house at the main shut-off valve if any plumbing fixtures in the house are damaged and/or leaking.

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Emergency Preparedness - Power Issues

Emergency Portable Generators

Many homeowners now have backup portable generators.  Click here for information on safety and operational issues that are important to know. 

Power Alerts and Rotating Outages

If the power is out, please consider these helpful tips until power is restored:

  • If you are driving, traffic lights will not be operating.

  • Treat intersections as if they are four-way stopsIf you are a pedestrian, be extra alert, since normal traffic patterns will be disrupted.

  • Keep at least one traditional phone linked by cord, since portable (cordless) phones won’t work without electricity.

  • Turn off all major appliances to prevent circuits from overloading.

  • Leave on e light on to indicate when the power has been restored.

  • Keep a battery-powered flashlight and radio handy, with plenty of spare batteries.  If it is dark, use flashlights, never use candles since they can start a fire.

  • Do not burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors.

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep food as fresh as possible.

  • Consider installing a surge protector to prevent sudden surges of power that can damage computers, fax machines and other equipment. Also, check your internet service provider’s back-up strategy.

  • Learn how to work your automatic garage door manually so you don’t get stuck without a car.

  • Protect your computer: Back up important data and files regularly.  During an outage: Remove the power plugs that belong to the computer, monitor, printer and scanner from the wall socket.  Power surges can cause damage to your computer if it’s still plugged into the wall.

  • If you have a security system, check to make sure the back-up batteries are fully charged.

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