How to Help Seniors Prepare for a California Power Outage


In order to reduce the risk of wildfires in California, the Pacific Gas and Electric company has issued a series of power outages. The PG&E power outages in California have been stressful and chaotic for many residents, including caregivers and seniors. There often is no definitive estimate for when power will be restored, leaving people confused about how to prepare.

At Alegre Home Care, we’ve taken every measure to make sure that our home caregivers, Alegre Home Care staff, and all of our clients are as safe as possible. Many of our caregivers and clients have faced mandatory evacuations due to the PG&E power outages. In addition to initiating office safety protocols in our California home care agency locations, we have also put together this guide below to help caregivers and seniors prepare for a California power outage.

How to Prepare for a California Power Outage

If possible, arrange for an alternative place to stay. Caregivers can help the seniors in their care make arrangements. Caregivers may have to alter their schedule in order to accommodate the new location, or can request additional help from their home care agency. If alternative accommodations are not an option, the information below will help seniors weather the power outage at home.

Check the PG&E map to see if your home or place of work is in the zones affected. If the PG&E website is experiencing difficulties, local news sources and Twitter are good places to find updates.

Stock up on water. At least two liters of water per day is needed for each person in the household. It is also a good idea to fill a few large pots and the bathtub with water, which can be used for washing.

Stock up on non-perishable food. Many seniors already have diet restrictions, so a power outage can restrict things even further. Caregivers can help by ensuring that there is enough non-perishable food in the house to last at least five days.

Make sure that all prescription medications have been refilled prior to a scheduled power outage. All medical supplies will also need to be fully stocked.

Seniors who rely on respirators, ventilators, power wheelchairs, home dialysis, and similar types of medical devices will have to take extra precautions. PG&E has a guide specifically designed for this situation, which can be found HERE on their website.

Have more than one emergency kit in the house. It is good to keep one in the bathroom and one near the front door in case of an evacuation. If there is a vehicle, have an emergency kit there, as well.

In addition to the emergency kit, prepare a “go” bag that has extra items seniors might need if there is an evacuation. This includes small things that are of sentimental value, medication, clothes, water, food, cash, I.D., and other essentials.

Have alternative power sources if possible. Generators, battery-powered appliances, and solar lights are all good alternatives to the regular energy grid. However, never use charcoal or gas barbecues, camping heating equipment, or home generators indoors because they give off dangerous carbon monoxide gas.

During the outage, turn off appliances and other items that require a lot of power, to prevent damage from a power surge when power is restored. Leave one light turned on so that it will be apparent when the power returns.

Plan and stock up on fun games, books, crafts, battery-powered radio, and other activities. Many seniors use television and the radio as their main forms of entertainment, and the boredom that comes from power outages can lead to increased depression and loneliness as a result.

Use battery-powered or solar-powered lights rather than candles, and make sure these devices are fully charged well in advance. Flashlights are also a must to have on hand. Using these things instead of candles will help reduce fire hazards during a power outage.

Try to preserve food by not opening the freezer or fridge unless it is absolutely necessary. A full freezer will keep food frozen for 24 to 36 hours if the door remains closed.

Ensure that seniors will be able to stay warm during a power outage. Extra blankets and warm clothes may be needed and home caregivers can help by purchasing or obtaining these items for the seniors in their care.

Enlist help. During a California power outage, seniors may need more care than usual. Caregivers will need to adjust their care plans accordingly and ask their home care agencies for advice and support.

Be fully knowledgeable and prepared to handle an emergency evacuation. An evacuation during a power outage is different than when power is on and local services are fully functioning. More information can be found on the PG&E website.

Home Care Services in California

Alegre Home Care has been serving seniors and people with disabilities in Northern California for over 25 years. As a local business, we care deeply about our communities, clients, caregivers, and staff. We understand the hardships that people experience during California power outages and have plans in place to best serve our communities. If you have questions or would like to hire a home caregiver, please contact us at 1-800-598-4777 or visit the contact page on our website.

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