Staff Report

In an era when utility companies are shutting off power to prevent wildfires, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is reminding customers to learn how to open a garage door during a power outage.

A recent online poll of PG&E customers found that about 20 percent of respondents are unfamiliar with this safety procedure.

“With wildfire season in full swing, it’s important for customers to know how to manually open their electric garage doors. Taking a few minutes now to learn and practice these and other easy safety steps can help you and your family stay safe during an emergency or Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event,” said Aaron Johnson, PGE vice president of electric operations.

PG&E recently launched its online Safety Action Center, a one-stop source to ensure that customers are prepared before a wildfire or another emergency. The Safety Action Center includes a video demonstration of how to manually open an electric garage door.

PG&E officials suggest moving vehicles out of the garage if weather conditions make an outage seem likely. They also offer this advice to manually open most garage doors:

Place a ladder or chair under the chain that operates the garage door. Look for a cord hanging from a bracket on the chain, usually with a red plastic knob at the bottom.

Grasp the knob and tug on the cord, which is hooked to a small lever. The lever is spring-loaded, so pull the cord until the lever locks in the down position. Once it locks down, step off the ladder or chair.

Grab the door with both hands and lift it. If the door will not move, pull the cord harder until it locks open. If the door is too heavy for you to lift, ask for help.

Do not let go of the door once it’s off the ground. It is free on the track and it will fall if you let go. Prop the door open using a ladder or have someone hold the door open for you while you drive your car in or out. When you’re finished with the door, ease it down by hand.

Pull down on the cord hard to lock it in place again after the power comes back on or you find your remote. Pull on the cord and watch as the bracket slips back into the chain bracket, locking the door into the powered carriage. Try the remote. If the door won’t open, but the chain is moving, pull on the chain again until the bracket locks. Test and pull the cord again if necessary to lock it.