Health & Safety

En Español

Health and Safety During a Power Outage

Managing Health Conditions During a Power Outage Guidelines

Planned or unplanned power outages are a reality of modern life. Prepare for
unexpected interruptions.

Information for CPAP and BIPAP Users

For CPAP and BIPAP users, a power outage may impact your ability to use CPAP or
BIPAP to treat your sleep apnea.

What are some options to consider in the event of a power outage?

Remember that regular usage of CPAP/BIPAP has carry over benefits for a night or
two, by increasing muscle tone in your mouth and throat. Your sleep apnea may not
be as severe on a single night without CPAP/BIPAP as it was before you started
treatment.

There are a few things you can do to reduce your sleep apnea severity if you find
yourself without CPAP/BIPAP:

CPAP

  • Sleep on your side or stomach, but NOT on your back
  • Sleep semi-upright (e.g., in a recliner)
  • Sleep semi-upright (e.g., in a recliner)
  • Do not drink alcohol
  • Do not smoke tobacco or marijuana
  • Do not use narcotic pain medicines or other sedatives

Backup power options in event of a power outage include:

  • A generator. If you have a generator, be sure to follow safety instructions and use
    only as needed to save fuel. Always allow the generator to cool completely
    before refueling.
  • A rechargeable CPAP battery. Available options can be found online, e.g. from
    http://www.CPAP.com.

*If you use CPAP, BIPAP or an oxygen concentrator for chronic respiratory failure and
not just CPAP/BIPAP for sleep apnea, planning for power outages by obtaining a
generator may be necessary. Please discuss with your Primary care provider or
Pulmonologist if you have questions about this.

Food Wise is Food Safe –When in Doubt Throw it Out

food safety

Information for Refrigerated Medications

Many Sonoma County residents take medication that needs refrigeration or use home
medical devices that require electricity or batteries, including breathing machines
(respirators, ventilators), power wheelchairs and scooters and oxygen, suction or home
dialysis equipment.

Along with emergency supplies, such as water and dried or nonperishable food, we
encourage you to pre-plan on how to meet your medical needs during a power outage.
Medications that require refrigerator should be kept cold during a power outage. In the
event of a power outage:

  • A closed refrigerator will maintain a cool temperature for 2-3 hours.
  • To prepare for longer periods without power, remove the refrigerated medications
    from the refrigerator as soon as possible.
  • Place medications into an ice chest or small cooler packed with ice, cooling
    bricks or cold packs.
  • Use a thermometer to monitor medication temperatures to ensure they’re safe to
    use.
  • Avoid freezing the medication by making sure it does not directly touch the ice.

Hydrate and Relocate Water Bottles

Keep hydrated. If you are unable to manage without power, seek shelter at
a community cooling station.

Sonoma County Emergency Power Outage Safety Tips

  • Check to see which of your information sources are working (NOAA Radio,
    Internet news sites, alert and warning apps).
  • All residents are encouraged to subscribe for SoCo Alerts. SoCoAlerts will send
    messages if evacuations are ordered. If you are in a high-risk wildfire area, stay
    alert – warning devices may not work without power. Sign-up online at
    http://www.SoCoAlert.com or by phone at 707-565-1369.
  • Use your cell phone sparingly to preserve power. Text when possible, in lieu of
    voice calls. Keep family up to date about how you are doing.
  • Keep hydrated and seek out cooling centers if needed.
  • Try to keep your refrigerator doors closed. Use the most perishable items first.
  • Items which fully thaw (above 40 degrees) must be used within 4 hours or thrown
    out.
  • If you have a generator, be sure to follow safety instructions and use only as
    needed to save fuel. Always allow the generator to cool completely before
    refueling.
  • If you have relatives or friends in other areas that still have power, take this
    opportunity to visit them.
  • Check on your neighbors and help each other stay safe.

Prepare for home medical needs and devices during power outages

Along with emergency supplies, such as water and dried or nonperishable food, we
encourage you to pre-plan on how to meet your medical needs during a power outage.

Emergency Contact Information

  • Keep a contact list handy of local family members, doctors and other support
    agencies.
  • To ask questions or request non-emergency help, contact Sonoma 2-1-1 .
  • For medical supplies, call your doctor or local hospital.
  • In a life-threatening emergency, call 911.

Medication Supplies

  • Have easy access to an updated list of medications
  • Keep at least a one-week supply of essential medications
  • Call your doctor or local hospital if you need more medication or other supplies
  • Spare pair of eyeglasses
  • Extra medical insurance cards
  • Extra batteries for hearing aids

Medical Devices

Use of medical devices during a power outage

  • Locate a generator if possible. However, it’s critical to follow safety guidelines to
    prevent toxic carbon monoxide in your home. Even if doors and windows are
    open, don’t run them inside any enclosed structure, such as a basement or
    garage, or outside near an open window.
  • Some medical devices require safe water in their use, cleaning, and
    maintenance. Use only bottled, boiled or treated (chlorine tablets, iodine tablets,
    or diluted unscented household chlorine bleach) water until your local supply is
    safe.
  • Check to be sure your power cord and device is dry before plugging it in. Do not
    plug in a power cord if the cord or the device is wet.
  • Do not reuse a medical device intended for single use.
  • When the power is restored, check to make sure the settings on your medical
    device have not changed (often medical devices reset to a default mode when
    power is interrupted).

Conserving Water

In the event of a power outage, most of Sonoma County’s water and sewer systems are supported by back-up power. In the event of an outage that lasts 24 hours or longer, residents are encouraged to conserve water indoors and outdoors, this includes using water efficiently, eliminating outdoor watering, and remembering to turn off irrigation systems. Water Conservation Tips