Power Outages

While power outages can happen unexpectedly, preparation is key. A power outage could last a few hours to a few days, or longer.

A power outage is when the electrical power goes out. While there are several reasons for power outages, severe weather events like high winds, wildfires, and winter storms are common reasons for power outages. Planned grid outages may be used for maintenance purposes or as a safety precaution during wildfire season. During wildfire season, electric providers may turn off electricity in wildfire high risk areas during a severe weather event.  

Prepare for a Power Outage

  • Stay informed. Update your contact information with your electricity provider to receive notifications during an emergency or when a planned grid outage is scheduled.
  • Develop an emergency plan. Keep phone numbers of your support network in your phone and on a piece of paper, and nearby in case you need to evacuate. Create a plan for any pets or livestock. Share your plans with close family and friends and share with them any help you may anticipate needing.
  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Test alarms monthly and replace batteries at least twice a year.

10 Tips to Prepare for a Natural Disaster

Now is the time to create an emergency plan to share with your healthcare providers, family and friends.

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During a Power Outage

  • Notify your electric company about the power outage.
  • Exercise caution when using alternatives to electric power:
    • Heating: Use woodstoves, gas heating stoves, and fireplaces to heat your home, but only if they are vented properly to the outside. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Do NOT use a kitchen gas range, oven, portable camping stove, gasoline, or diesel- powered generator to heat your home. Burning gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal produces carbon monoxide and other air hazardous pollutants that quickly build up inside buildings. 
    • Cooking: Outdoors is the only safe place to use generators, grills, camp stoves or any gasoline or diesel-powered engines.
    • Watch for symptoms: Wheezing, shortness of breath, or difficulty taking a full breath, dizziness, nausea, confusion, disorientation are signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Leave the area and seek medical attention immediately.
  • Keep the gas tank full in your car for if you must evacuate.  Listen to your local or state officials and leave if you are advised to do so.

Durable Medical Equipment and Power Outages

  • Contact your local electric company, fire, and police departments and let them know you are using supplemental oxygen, a CPAP, or nebulizer for lung disease management. 
  • Register for a Special Needs Shelter or find out which community shelter can handle your medical needs for prolonged outages.
  • Consider purchasing a back-up power generator to provide emergency electricity during a power outage. 

Discuss with your healthcare provider and oxygen supply company your oxygen needs during a power outage. Do not reduce your oxygen flow rate to extend the life of your battery or oxygen supply without talking to your healthcare provider.

Have extra batteries and car charger available. Talk to your oxygen supply company about a back-up emergency supply that does not require electricity such as oxygen tanks and cylinders. Make sure you know how to set up and use your back up emergency oxygen supply. Share this information with a friend or neighbor who lives nearby and can check on you during an emergency.

Check if you have a battery powered back up or a car adaptor. Ask your healthcare provider if there is a similar medication that you can use during a power outage.t

  • BE PREPARED FOR A POWER OUTAGE (ready.gov)

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  • Power Outage Safety | American Red Cross (Power Outage Safety Checklist downloadable in multiple languages)

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Page last updated: January 8, 2024

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