PREPARING FOR UTILITY BLACKOUTSCategory:
PREPARING FOR UTILITY BLACKOUTS
By Eileen Lynch
Fire and heat season is upon us, and like clockwork, the Southwest USA, in particular, is experiencing rolling power outages. But you need not live in the Southwest to experience power outages. The unexpected loss of power can cause serious interruptions for those managing Parkinson’s care, but the good news is you can do a lot right now to make an emergency plan in advance to ensure you and your loved ones’ safety.
It is important to note no utility company can guarantee that your electricity will never be cut or slowed down during fire, storm, and high heat emergencies. That does not mean your provider won’t help you with your special circumstances. In Southern California, for instance, you can reach out to Southern California Edison, online, and get some incredible tips. Here are a few things you can do right now to protect yourself.
- Know what’s coming: familiarize yourself with your provider’s outage alert system. SoCal Edison’s comprehensive Outage Center includes a way to sign up for email, text, and phone alerts, as well as tips and resources.
- Know local resources: SoCal Edison’s website directs users towards local cooling centers and can even find hotel discounts for you, should you need to relocate. You can also register your medical devices through the site to get your bill lowered.
- Know what you have: Preparing your emergency supply kit is relatively easy. Here are some tips for building your OUTAGE SUPPLY KIT:
- First Aid Kit: In addition to the standard first aid kit, prepare a medicine supply buffer of up to a month in advance of service shutdowns. Update your medicine kit frequently and check for expired medications.
- Potable Water: Experts recommend at least one gallon per day per person
- Flashlights & batteries: People with Parkinson’s should take extra care to have backup batteries and generators ready. Make sure you have an external rechargeable battery pack and do not forget to keep it charged! Store them where you can easily find them – even when it is dark.
- Perishable Items: Stock up on nonperishable staples for you and your family. With canned food, make sure you have a can opener! Prepare a few large coolers to fill with ice in the event of an outage to store temperature-dependent medicine and perishable food. Choose items that do not require cooking or heating.
- Manual can opener
- Coolers or ice chests: Have a few to store ice in case of a lengthy outage.
- Special-needs items: This includes items for infants, the elderly, or the disabled.
- Battery-operated radio: To access news reports.
- Fresh batteries: For all battery-powered equipment.
- External rechargeable battery pack: To charge cell phones and other electronic devices. For those affected by Parkinson’s, extra care must be taken to preserve battery power and build a strong medical first aid kit.
- Non-cordless phone: To plug in during power outages.
- Elder/Disabled/Infant/Pet Care: Make a care plan for everyone in your family, including your pets. Stock up on sensitive care items such as diapers, soft foods, kitty litter, etc.
- Do you know where you will take the people in your care in the event of dislocation?
As a dress rehearsal of sorts, take some time to familiarize yourself with your utility box, write down important phone numbers and addresses for your refrigerator, and place flashlights (with batteries!) strategically throughout the house. Most importantly, never use a gas generator inside the house. Identify a place outside the house, on a clean, level surface, for safe use.
Heat, as we have experienced in the last few weeks, is nothing to underestimate. Stay indoors. Stay hydrated. Stay cool. We are rooting for all of you, and we are sending love and luck to everyone living in a fire zone, of which we are included!
Eileen Lynch is joining the PRO team on August 1 as our Director of Operations. She is relocating from Vermont. They have power outages in Vermont as well, but perhaps not as we have in California.