Power Shutoff with Kids: What to Do & Where to Go - 510 Families
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Power Shutoff with Kids: What to Do & Where to Go

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PG&E is likely to impose another round of Bay Area blackouts, called Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS), in order to prevent wildfires. With the recent and planned PG&E electricity shutdowns, parents are juggling extra variables to make their lives work and to keep the kids happy and healthy. While not a comprehensive list, we’ve gathered resources, tips, and tricks to help East Bay families.

Please add more helpful tips in the comments!

child reading by headlamp

Local information resources during planned power shutoffs

If you’re going to be impacted by a planned power outage, it is very likely that you’d be notified by letters and texts so it won’t come as a surprise. Once you lose power, it may become harder to keep up-to-date.

Where to play and what to do with kids during planned power shutoffs

Outside places to play during a power shutdown

If the weather is pleasant and the air quality good, playing outside is a terrific option when there’s no electricity at home. We have so many suggestions of terrific East Bay parks and playgrounds, where to play outside with little kids, and where to play outside with big kids, we hope you never run out of good ideas.

Take kids all the way outside in the Bay Area
Go play outside, really outside! | Photo: Annie Burke

Inside places to play during a power shutdown

Ah, yes, this is where it becomes harder to advise you. Take a look at the power outage map, point your stroller toward the areas that are not impacted — often, but not always, the Flats. Wonderful kid-centric businesses that have electricity will welcome you with open arms, hot coffee, and access to chargers. Your community will embrace you in a lovely way. And businesses with no power will be swearing and shaking their fists right along with you.


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San Pablo Library Reading Chairs
Find an open library during your personal power outage. Pictured: San Pablo Library | Photo: Anna Azimi

These tips are generally helpful but will not always prove true:

  • Libraries are especially fantastic! In Berkeley and other communities, libraries are open extra hours to provide additional services including WiFi and device charging. Branch libraries may be open extra days; WiFi may be open even while the building is closed.
  • Target and the big box stores. Whitney says, “Not very Berkeley of me, but big box stores are free admission and entertaining for little ones. The complex in Emeryville that has Home Depot, Michael’s, and Target would allow us to roam for a while. There might be supplies I need; there’s usually power (generator); lots to look at; temperature controlled outing; maybe WiFi, too!”
  • Call on your buddies.  Visit a friend with electricity, we want to help. If I am available, please come on over, watch Disney+, and charge your devices at my place. I might even make you lunch.
  • Indoor family fun. Call before you visit your favorite indoor play spaces to see if they are open. Plank at Jack London Square was a perfect place to be for Carol and her older kids last time.
  • Just eat out. If you can afford it, eat at a restaurant and skip the effort of cooking beyond cereal. Julie took her kids to Denny’s for a special weeknight treat. Check out 99 restaurants that kids love.

Gear up for the next planned power shutoff

Prepare for a power shutdown that could last several days by stocking your emergency kit and planning ahead.

  • Flashlights, lanterns. Have enough for everyone. When it is dark at night, it is REALLY DARK. I love these supercharging lantern lights in particular but I’m a fan of most flashlights, headlamps, solar panels.
  • Batteries to power it all. We have a big drawer of all the various size batteries and a few of these Anker portable chargers.
  • Purchase ice for coolers and put items that you will be needing for the day in the cooler so you don’t have to open refrigerator or freezer. Wondering whether to eat your stored food or chuck it? Check for food safety instructions after a power outage here >
LuminAID PackLite Hero 2-in-1 Supercharger
Designed for camping and perfect for emergencies, the solar-powered LuminAID lantern charges phones | Photo: LuminAID (pictured PackLite Hero 2-in-1 Supercharger)

Find more tips on preparing a disaster kit at ready.gov/kit. I still totally need to do this.

Special thanks to Whitney Moss, Carol Burton, and Julie Herson for sharing their experiences and advice. Share your tips, too!


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