Many people rely on power to help manage chronic health conditions. If you fall into this group, you know that a power outage can quickly become a matter of life or death. Whether you require insulin to manage diabetes or you rely on a respirator to help with your breathing, you know how quickly a power outage can turn your world upside down.
If that describes your situation, make sure you register with your local utility company. In the event of a prolonged power outage, you will receive extra assistance if they are able to give it, including help with locating a shelter or facility that has reliable power where you can stay for the duration of the failure. But, even if you’re in good health to begin with, a power outage could put you at risk in a number of different ways.
Exposure: Extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, can take a toll on anyone. Those most at risk are young children, seniors, and anyone who is already sick or otherwise in a weakened state. In severe cases, exposure to extreme heat or cold can lead to serious health problems that may require hospitalization or that can even lead to death.
Food Poisoning: Lack of refrigeration can quickly lead to food spoilage. Eating foods that have not been stored at proper temperatures can cause food poisoning from salmonella, E.coli, or other bacteria.
Water Hazards: Perhaps one of the biggest dangers during a prolonged power outage is consuming contaminated water. Water treatment plants need power to operate, and while they usually have backup generators that will keep them running during an outage, during a storm or natural disaster, those generators may go out as well. If you don’t know how to treat your water before drinking it, or if you don’t have the correct supplies, you could be exposed to toxins and waterborne illnesses.
Injury: During a power outage, you may be called on to do things that you wouldn’t normally do, like operate a generator or clear heavy debris from around your home. Injuries suffered during a power outage are more dangerous than usual because the medical system is already stretched thin. This could delay your treatment, and exacerbate your injury.
Supply Interruptions: You normally rely on regular trips to the grocery store for the supplies you need to maintain hygiene and sanitation as well meet your other basic needs. Power outages can lead to serious supply disruptions that could compromise any one of these areas… and that in turn could compromise your health.