What should I do during a power outage if I rely on an electric or battery-dependent medical device?
Power outages may be serious for people who use electricity and battery-dependent assistive technology and medical devices. These include customers who use respirators or ventilators, power wheelchairs, oxygen, or home dialysis machines.
Power outages may also be serious for customers who rely on medication that requires refrigeration.
To prepare for a power outage:
- Write down emergency phone numbers and keep them handy
- Identify a backup location where you can go if necessary
- Consider a safe backup power source, such as an electric generator or uninterruptible power supply
- Regularly check that your backup or alternative power source is working properly
- Teach everyone you might contact for help how to operate your equipment and backup systems
- Label your equipment with your name, contact information, and clear instructions how to operate the equipment
Here are some additional tips that may be helpful for some customers:
- If you or someone in your family uses a life-support device, contact PG&E about signing up for the Medical Baseline Program (see below) to receive extra advance notification of a power outage
- If you use a ventilator, keep a hand-held resuscitation bag on hand
- If you depend on dialysis or other medical service, check with your provider about their service plans during an emergency.
- If you use oxygen, check with your provider to determine if a reduced flow rate can be used to extend the life of the system. If possible, have backup canisters available.
- If you use a motorized wheelchair or scooter, have a lightweight manual wheelchair available for emergency use
- If you use a generator as a backup power source, follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions to operate your generator safely
211 is a free, confidential calling and texting service that helps people across California find the local health and social service resources they need.
211's 24/7 disaster support covers all 58 counties within California.
Public Safety Power Shutoff and Medical Baseline Customers
In the interest of safety, PG&E may need to turn off power to communities served by electric lines in or running through high fire-threat areas when gusty winds and dry conditions, combined with a heightened fire risk, threaten a portion of the electric system. This is called a Public Safety Power Shutoff.
During a Public Safety Power Shutoff, ALL customers serviced by an affected power line will have their power shut off. This includes Medical Baseline customers.
The Medical Baseline Program, also known as Medical Baseline Allowance, is an assistance program for residential customers who have special energy needs due to qualifying medical conditions. In addition to being eligible for a lower rate on your monthly energy bill, Medical Baseline Program customers receive extra notifications in advance of a Public Safety Power Shutoff.
Though weather conditions can change quickly, PG&E will aim to provide advance notifications for potentially affected customers beginning 48 hours before the power is turned off. Additional outreach to Medical Baseline customers may include extra phone calls or a door knock to ensure that they are aware that a Public Safety Power Shutoff is going to occur so they can make the necessary preparations to stay safe.
To learn more about the Medical Baseline Program, visit pge.com/medicalbaseline.
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