As Pacific Gas and Electric begins to shut off power in 34 California counties, including Santa Cruz County, they are providing suggestions for those who rely on electric or battery medical devices.
The types of devices could include respirators or ventilators, power wheelchairs, oxygen or home dialysis machines, but it could also be serious for those who rely on medication that requires refrigeration.
To prepare for a power outage, PG&E suggests:
Writing down emergency phone numbers and keeping them handy.
Identifying a backup location to go if necessary.
Considering a backup power source, like an electric generator or uninterruptible power supply.
Regularly checking backup or alternative power sources are working properly.
Teaching those you might contact for help how to operate equipment and backup systems.
Labeling equipment with your name, contact information and instructions about how to operate it.
Some other tips PG&E offered include:
If you or someone in your family uses an electric or battery device, contact PG&E about signing up for the Medical Baseline Program to get extra advance notice of a power outage.
If you use a ventilator, keep a hand-held resuscitation bag around.
If you depend on dialysis or another medical device, check with your provider about service plans during an emergency.
If you use oxygen, check with your provider to find out if a reduced flow rate can be used to extend the life of the system. If possible, PG&E also recommends having a backup cannister.
If you use a motorized wheelchair or scooter, keep a lightweight manual wheelchair available for emergencies.
If you use a generator, follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions.
Those who sign up for the Medical Baseline Program will still have their power shut off, but PG&E also has an assistance program for those with special energy needs due to qualifying medical conditions. To learn more about the program, go to pge.com/medicalbaseline. According to PG&E, there are about 1,700 Medical Baseline customers in Santa Cruz County that will be impacted.