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Power Outage Preparation for Caregivers

power outage

Power Outage: Emergency Preparation for Caregivers

Recently we experienced a storm with high winds that resulted in power outages across our area. Our electricity at home was off for more than two and a half days. Two nights and almost two whole days without electricity at home will remind you how grateful you should be for electricity, and make you realize how you take the availability of electricity for granted.

It is startling to realize suddenly that you can’t use the microwave, the electric coffee maker, the clothes dryer, vacuum cleaner, or hair dryer when you have just pushed the “on” button.

If you are a caregiver, a power outage may mean more than an inconvenience. It may be an emergency that causes some serious risks for your loved one’s health conditions.

There are probably electrically connected device that your loved one depends on for comfort and health. The need for air conditioning or heating. Different medical devices and equipment like beds and oxygen aids. If so, it would be wise to check with your local first responders to see what can be done to help you in case of a power outage, especially in rural or remote areas. You could also contact your power supply company and let them know the level of electrical dependency your loved one needs to remain safe.

The fire department or police department or a local Red Cross chapter may be able to assist you with health and safety needs in this situation, especially there’s a power outage of more than a day.

Here are some reminders to help you stay safe at home in case of a short-term power outage.

  • Use a flashlight or battery-operated lantern. Keep batteries and extra bulbs on hand. Keep a flashlight by your bed.
  • Turn off or unplug all major appliances (e.g., stove, refrigerator, dryer, televisions, computers). They could be damaged by the electrical surge when the power is restored.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Stock up on canned foods, instant coffee, and packaged foods that you won’t have to use an oven or microwave to prepare. Keep a supply of bottled water on hand.
  • Keep your cell phone charged up. You can possibly charge your cell phone in your car, if you can get to your car safely. Your landline phone may still work.
  • Make sure you have your medications in the bottles with prescription labels on them. Keep a week’s supply of medication for emergencies.
  • Keep a supply of extra sanitation supplies, like toilet paper and adult diapers on hand.
  • Keep some cash and coins on hand. ATM’s won’t work in a power outage.
  • Use portable generators cautiously. Make sure they are operated only out-of-doors in a well-ventilated area. Refuel a generator only after it has cooled. Do not connect a generator to your home’s electrical system except though an approved transfer switch installed in compliance with local code.
  • Gas up your car beforehand if you know bad weather is coming. You will not be able to pump gas if the gas station loses electrical power.

And most important, communicate with others about your situation. Let your neighbors and relatives know about your situation immediately. Keep emergency numbers for the power company on hand. And, of course, use your weather radio or emergency alert system radio to be informed about the earliest weather warnings.

Being prepared for electrical outage emergencies takes only common sense and some planning. There is help available.

For more information, the Red Cross has a booklet, “Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors” online or visit www.redcross.org.

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