Power Outages Can Make Your Summer Go Dark. Here’s How People with Access and Functional Needs Can Prepare


There are various factors that cause power outages. Whether it’s due to a disaster, extreme heat or other climate driven impacts, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) wants Californians to be prepared if the power goes out.

Some populations such as people with access and functional needs (AFN) – including those with disabilities, older adults or limited mobility- may have additional needs. For people with AFN and their families, it is important to consider individual circumstances to be fully prepared before, during and after a power outage.

Here are a few tips to consider:


Have a Plan

  • Sign up for your utility’s outage alerts and services for people with disabilities such as a medical baseline program, an assistance program for people who depend on power for certain medical needs.
  • Keep phones and backup batteries fully charged, and stock up on batteries and other alternative power sources.
  • Get battery operated flashlights or lanterns to enable communication by sign language or lip reading.
  • Develop a plan with your medical equipment supplier. Some companies may supply additional medical supplies and other services during emergency situations.
  • Discuss a personal disaster plan with family and caregivers and make a contact list of those who can assist you. If your needs cannot be met during a power outage, plan with caregivers for transportation to a location with power.
  • If you need to leave your home, work with local services, public transportation, or paratransit to identify all accessible transportation options.
  • If a power outage occurs during an extreme heat event and your home becomes too hot, seek out a cooling center or public area to cool down and stay safe from the heat.
  • If you have an electric garage door, find out where the manual release lever is located and learn how to operate it.

Prepare Your Medications, Medical and Assistive Devices

  • Pack a Go Bag that includes emergency contact list, list of medicines you take, and information on your medical needs and devices.
  • Have a cooler and chemical ice packs available to chill medicines that need to be refrigerated.
  • Make a contact list of emergency phone numbers. Include contact information for your doctor and medical equipment company.
  • If you use a motorized wheelchair or scooter, have an extra battery. Have a lightweight manual chair available as a backup if possible.
  • Purchase an extra battery for your battery-operated medical or assistive technology devices. If you can’t purchase an extra battery, find out what agencies, organizations or local charitable groups can help you buy one. Keep extra batteries charged at all times.

Sign up for Alerts and Notifications

  • Sign up for emergency alerts with your county or local officials. You can choose how to get alerts sent to you when you sign up, including cell phone, home phone, email, text messages, and in some cases, TTY devices.
  • Participation in a medical baseline program is important to ensure you receive additional notification of upcoming or current power shutoff events which may occur during extreme heat events.
  • If you use medical equipment in your home that requires electricity, talk to your doctor or health care provider about how to keep it running during a power outage. You can also ask your power provider to put you on a list for priority power restoration.

Have Family, Friends or Neighbors Check in on You

  • Have those around you check in on you during extreme heat events. Taking care of each other is crucial to keeping safe.
  • Many city and county emergency management agencies maintain voluntary registries for people with disabilities to self-identify in order to receive targeted assistance during emergencies. Contact your local emergency management office to find out more.


Additional Resources and Tools:

Listos California: has resources to help you be prepared for power outages.

Cal OES News: includes the latest news and updates such as cooling centers and other summer safety information.

Disability Disaster Access and Resources Directory: Includes a map and listing of disability disaster access and resource centers by county.

Ready.gov: provides power outage tips, emergency planning guidance and considerations for people with disabilities.

Cal OES Generator Safety Video: learn safety considerations for gas generators.

California Public Utilities Commission Power Outage Maps: View outages throughout the state by utility company.