Preparing for Power Outages and Other Emergencies

Last week PG&E shut off power to hundreds of thousands of Californians to avoid potential wildfires. This was inconvenient for all involved; for people in the disability community who rely on power wheelchairs, breathing machines, electric mattresses, or a number of other medical devices the power shutoff was exponentially more difficult, potentially life threatening.

PG&E offers an opt in program for customers with disabilities which gives advanced warning of planned power outages. Unfortunately, that warning may be as little as 24 hours notice and is not guaranteed. For many with disabilities this is not enough time to relocate to a place with functioning power – assuming that we have such a place to go, and are well enough to travel there and transport all of our medical equipment in the first place.

This is where community and emergency preparedness must step in. If you don’t have one, now is the time to make a plan. If you have a disability, let your trusted friends and neighbors know what your energy needs are and ask them to check in if the power goes out. If you are not a disabled person make checking in with the people with disabilities in your life part of your emergency preparedness plan.

To learn more about making emergency plans visit https://scdd.ca.gov/emergencypreparedness/

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