For most people, a short electrical outage may be inconvenient, but for those dependent upon oxygen concentrators or other medical equipment, a night without power could be catastrophic. If you or a loved one are a member of that growing population, the very thought of losing electricity might make you anxious. Fortunately, there are proactive steps you can take to prepare for such an emergency. Use the following tips to take control of the situation.. You’ll feel empowered knowing your equipment is not necessarily at the mercy of the grid.
Get to Know Your Neighbors
While responsible individuals should work hard to ensure that their households can handle the fallout from storms and other disasters, our obligations don’t end at our property lines. The truth is we are all part of a community. If you don’t already know the people living around you, now is the time for introducing yourself. When your neighbors understand that you rely on home medical equipment, it’s likely they will make looking out for your well-being a priority in the event of an outage. Who knows, you may be able to help them meet some of their needs during an emergency as well.
Check with Your Medical Supply Company
Many medical supply companies have plans in place for providing services to their customers in the event of an emergency.
For example, in the wake a storm that hammered the eastern United States in June 2012, literally millions of people found themselves without power. While the situation was unpleasant for everyone involved, Home MediService, a medical supply company operating out of Maryland, knew its customers would be especially vulnerable. As worried customers dependent upon oxygen concentrators contacted the company, it worked with them to assess each situation and, whenever necessary, quickly dispatched additional oxygen supplies to affected customers.
Be sure to contact your supply company to see what types of contingency plans it has in place. If you are concerned about your ability to weather a power outage without your medical equipment, make sure you are on any lists the company maintains of customers who may be at risk in the event of a blackout.
Alert Your Power Company
Just as your medical supply company needs to know about your situation to keep you safe when the grid goes down, so does your electric company. Many maintain lists of customers dependent upon home medical equipment, and in some states, creating such a database is the law. In the event of an outage, restoring power to at-risk customers becomes a priority.
Supply Your Own Electricity
Unfortunately, even if the power company prioritizes restoring your service, many factors are simply beyond their control. A hard-hit area might not have power for days as a utility’s crews struggle to repair spectacular amounts of damage to its infrastructure.
So, what’s the best way to deal with this unfortunate fact of life? Make sure that you can generate your own electricity in the event of an emergency.
Work with your supply company to determine your equipment’s power needs and then consider purchasing an appropriately-sized portable solar generator. Safe to use indoors, a solar generator uses an attached panel to create electricity and stores it in a powerful battery. Some equipment may even run directly from the panel during the day and use the battery component only at night or in suboptimal weather. Unlike a gasoline generator, these machines are quiet and do not give off potentially deadly carbon monoxide exhaust.
When you rely on home medical equipment to keep yourself or a loved one safe and comfortable, an electrical outage can be serious business. You can, however, minimize the danger by taking the time to prepare now. Perhaps you will go years without suffering a serious power outage, but, when one occurs, you’ll be ready.