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Power Outage for Medically Fragile


The high-winds and fire danger have prompted power companies to shut off power to many areas of California as a preemptive measure to prevent wildfires caused by power lines. Earthquakes, scheduled maintenance and other situations can cause a sudden and unexpected loss of electricity. While being without power can be inconvenient for many, it leaves those who are medically fragile looking for alternative energy sources for the equipment to keep medications refrigerated, batteries to mobility devices charged and breathing machines and oxygen concentrators and other life-saving medical devices running. It is a good idea to have a plan before the power goes out.

Here are some tips to help you and your family prepare for the possibility of losing power for a day or more. For a more detailed list, check out our resources listed below:

  • If you use medical equipment in your home that requires electricity, talk to your doctor or health care provider about how you can prepare for its use during a power outage
  • Identify alternative locations where you can go in the event your power is going to be out for any length of time that puts you at risk
  • Plan how you will evacuate with your medical devices or how you will replace equipment if lost or destroyed. Keep model information and serial number of medical devices. Include special instructions for operating your equipment if needed and note where the equipment came from
  • Create a contact list and store in a watertight container in your emergency kit
  • Be ready to explain to first responders that you need to evacuate and choose to go to a shelter with your family, service animal, caregiver, personal assistant, and your assistive technology devices and supplies
  • Plan ahead for accessible transportation that you may need for evacuation or getting to a medical clinic. Work with local services, public transportation or local private accessible transportation options
  • If you are dependent on dialysis or other life-sustaining treatment, know the location and availability of more than one facility
  • If you use a power wheelchair, if possible, have a lightweight manual chair available as a backup. Know the size and weight of your wheelchair in addition to whether or not it is collapsible, in case it has to be transported
  • Have at least a week-long supply of prescription medicines, along with a list of all medications, dosage, and any allergies as well as copies of medical insurance and Medicare cards
  • Contact information for doctors, relatives or friends who should be notified if you need assistance

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