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Resources for medically fragile patients during power outages

January 10, 2023
UC Davis Health
By Claudia Coons

 

Power outages like those experienced recently by hundreds of thousands of people in the Sacramento area can have a major impact on those who are medically fragile.

They are forced to look for other energy sources to keep medications refrigerated, batteries to mobility devices charged and other life-saving medical machines running. This is particularly stressful for seniors and those with disabilities.

As storms continue across the state, residents are preparing for the possibility of additional power outages in the coming days.

Local agencies and utility companies are inundated with calls and responses may be delayed.

In the meantime, consider alternative public spaces that may be available to charge devices such as public libraries (Sacramento and Yolo County), a local coffee shop or indoor shopping center.

Here are additional resources that may help.

Personal and medical electrical needs:

If you are a Sacramento County resident in need of immediate assistance, you may contact SMUD at 888-742-7683.

PG&E partners with the 211 California Network. If you need to charge your medical equipment or need a safe place to stay, you can:

  • Call PG&E at 800-743-5000 for emergency assistance
  • Call 2-1-1 or 844-546-1464 or 916-498-1000 to connect with specific resources available in your county. Call 7-1-1 if you are hearing impaired and ask to be connected to 2-1-1.
  • Email [email protected] or visit 211.org for more information.
  • Medically fragile PG&E customers may also call 800-655-7732, TTY: 530 742-2379 for help with lodging or finding charging stations. Counties served include: Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sierra, Sutter and Yuba.

Shelter and charging stations

For an updated list of evacuation centers, warming shelters, and daytime respite centers visit: https://www.211sacramento.org/211/severe-weather-spaces/.

PG&E resources for support during and after a power outage, including continuous power options for those with disabilities can be found here: https://www.pge.com/en_US/safety/emergency-preparedness/natural-disaster/wildfires/independent-living-centers.page

Ongoing assistance:

  • SMUD provides is an “opt in” program where customers who depend on electric-powered medical equipment can receive advance notice of power outages and discounted rates. Check out the Medical Equipment Discount Rate and the Vulnerable Population Program.
  • PG&E’s Medical Baseline Program is an assistance program for residential customers who depend on power for certain medical needs. According to the utility, customers will receive extra notifications as part of this outreach, which may include additional phone calls or a door-bell ring to ensure they’re aware and can prepare to stay safe. It is important that Medical Baseline customers acknowledge receipt of a notification by answering the phone and speaking or replying to the text message. Customers can also receive additional allotment of electricity at a lower rate each month to support their qualifying medical devices.

Create a plan:

If you are medically fragile but not currently experiencing an emergency, take this time to plan. Have a list of contacts available and try to identify alternative locations you can go in the event your power goes out for an extended period. Create an emergency kit, and plan for accessible transportation you may need in the event of an evacuation.

If you’re experiencing a life-threatening emergency, please dial 911.

 

Read More on UC Davis Health.