Sometimes we take advantage of the air we breathe. We take it for granted that our lungs will suck it in, our body’s blood supply will absorb it, and our body can process it to keep us alive.
However, some of us may depend on machinery to keep our breath going, or to keep our kidneys functioning, or we depend on some other medical miracle machine. Whatever the case, if you or your loved one depends on a home medical device, you need to plan how you will manage during a power outage.
I know, I hear you — another plan? Yes — and no. It’s really just an extension of your basic emergency plan that you will be glad you thought of if you ever need to enact it.
Just like we talked about in earlier weeks when we were talking about planning ahead for medications, this begins pretty much the same way. Start by recording the patient’s complete name, date of birth, sex, address, phone number, additional contact information, and doctor’s name(s) and contact information in a journal, booklet, notebook, or on your computer.
Next, write down contact information for your power company, utility company, gas provider, local fire department, Home Health agency and caregiver, local hospital or clinic, and any other health care providers you have. Be sure to include a nurse’s advice line or therapist information if you use them.
Next, write down all the details about each medical device being used at home. Remember to include the manufacturer, model, or other information. Write down where you purchased the device and when. Include information to remind yourself or others where you keep the instruction booklet for each piece of equipment, too. Record information about the supplies the device uses, too, and where you purchase them, store them, and how long their shelf-life is. Keep in mind that you will need to update that information in your plan if and when you update your equipment, also.
Then, you can use the plan you should have already for your medications. Jot down the name, dosage, prescription number, and pharmacy information where you got the medication. Remember that this is a live document and should be updated when the information changes. You will want to look through it at least once a year to make sure it’s current, more often if you have health changes.
The FDA website has step-by-step instructions on what all to include in such a plan, so if you have access to the internet, take a moment and visit their site. Click on www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/HomeHealthandConsumer/UCM252812.pdf to go directly to the planning document. Once you have completed the basic information, there is a series of questions for you to answer, such as “Can a power surge cause my device to stop working? If yes, what type of surge protector do I need?” and “Could I be harmed if my device stops for a short period of time? If yes, what is that time period?”
Other important considerations include, “Can my device operate on another power source? If yes, what type?” and “Does my device or do my supplies have to be kept at a certain temperature? If yes, what temperature?” There are a series of questions here that can be very beneficial for you or your loved one to think through.
Plan now and be prepared to stay safe out there.
Shelly Butts is Emergency Management coordinator for Madison County.