A power outage in the summer months can be dangerous, exposing people to high temperatures as air conditioning units shut off, preventing people from running necessary medical equipment, and removing the ability to store temperature-sensitive medications in the fridge for an extended period. Typically, people who lose power can locate an air-conditioned shelter in their area or spend time at the mall or a public library, but COVID-19 has rendered this plan risky, especially for those with underlying health conditions.
If you are not asked by your local officials to evacuate your home ahead of a storm and are planning to ride it out, it is important to do so safely. You can take some basic precautions in anticipation of potential power outages after a storm, including:
- Use a back-up generator to power necessary medical devices, air conditioning units, and other electronics you may need. Keep the generator outside to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- If you don’t have a generator, store medications that require refrigeration in a cooler with ice packs.
- Locate your nearest public facility designated as a cooling center or mass care center. If you do need to go there, bring a mask or face covering and hand sanitizer. Do your best to maintain a distance of six feet from everyone else and avoid touching high-traffic areas, like handrails. If you feel sick, tell shelter staff immediately.
- Stay hydrated, take cool showers or baths, and rely on fans to help keep you cool. Contact your local health department if you need additional assistance.