The Dallas County Emergency Management office encourages anyone who uses electric medical devices or assistive technology to create a plan in case your power goes out during an ice storm or other disaster.
This equipment includes oxygen, respirators, ventilators, suction, home dialysis, power wheelchairs and scooters.
A lifesaving key is to be familiar with your equipment and how to troubleshoot it. Regularly check the backup power source on your equipment, and teach your neighbors and caregivers how to use the backup system.
Keep copies of instructions, along with model and serial numbers, in the same waterproof container you store other emergency items, such as copies of your ID and medical information. If you need to evacuate, you can quickly grab everything.
A second important step is to notify local law enforcement and EMS about your health condition and the equipment you need.
Third, notify your power company that you are energy dependent so they can list your home as a priority to reconnect during a power failure.
If your electricity goes off, never use candles when oxygen is in use. Consider purchasing a generator if you have someone that can operate it safely.
Once power is restored, check the settings on your medical devices to make sure they didn’t go back to the default mode. This is where being familiar with your equipment comes in handy.
When heavy snow and ice are predicted, staying temporarily with someone else may be most prudent. For persons on dialysis, the American Kidney Fund recommends that if you know a storm is coming, arrange to have dialysis early.
Planning ahead for these situations might save your life.
Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department. A. J. Seely is the coordinator of the Dallas County Office of Emergency Management.