Emergency Power Planning for People Who Use Electricity and Battery-Dependent Assistive Technology and Medical Devices

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This emergency power planning checklist is for people who use electricity and battery dependent assistive technology and medical devices, including:

  • Breathing machines (respirators, ventilators).
  • Power wheelchairs and scooters.
  • Oxygen, suction or home dialysis equipment.

Some of this equipment is essential to your level of independence while other equipment is vital to keeping you alive! Use the checklist to make power-backup plans.

Review and update this checklist every six months. (One way to remember to do this is when you set your clocks forward in the spring and back in the fall.)

Emergency Power Planning Checklist

Date Complete

Does not Apply







Planning Basics



Create a plan for alternative sources of power.



Read equipment instructions and talk to equipment suppliers about your backup power options.



Get advice from your power company regarding type of backup power you plan to use.



Regularly check backup or alternative power equipment to ensure it will work during an emergency.



Teach your neighbors and caregivers how to use your backup systems and operate your equipment.



Keep a list of alternate power providers.

  • Ask your nearby police and fire departments and hospital if you could use them as a backup for your equipment power if your backup systemsfail.



Label all equipment with your name, address, and phone number. Attach simple and clear instruction cards to equipment and cover them with clear packing or mailing tape.



Keep copies of instructions for each piece of equipment, along with serial and model numbers, in a waterproof container or in your emergency supply kits.




Life-Support Device Users



Contact your power and water companies about your needs for life- support devices (home dialysis, suction, breathing machines, etc.) in advance of a disaster.

  • Many utility companies keep a “priority reconnection service” list and map of the locations of power-dependent customers for use in an emergency. Ask the customer service department of your utility companies if this service is available. Note that even if you are on the “priority reconnection service” list, your power could still be out for many days following a disaster. It is vital that you have power backup options for yourequipment.*



Let your fire department know that you are dependent on life-support devices.



All ventilator users should keep a resuscitation bag handy. The bag delivers air through a mask when squeezed.



If you receive dialysis or other medical treatments, ask your health care provider for the plans in an emergency and where you should go for treatment if your usual clinic is not available after an emergency.



Oxygen Users



Check with your health care provider to see if you can use a reduced flow rate in an emergency to extend the life of the system. Label your equipment with the reduced flow numbers so that you can easily refer to them.



Be aware of oxygen safety practices:



  • Avoid areas where there are gas leaks or openflames.



  • Post "Oxygen in Use"signs.



  • Always use battery powered flashlights or lanterns rather than gas lights or candles when oxygen is in use (to reduce firerisk).



  • Keep the shut-off switch for oxygen equipment near you so you can get to it quickly in case ofemergency.



Generator Users



Make sure use of a generator is appropriate and realistic.



A 2,000 to 2,500-watt gas-powered portable generator can power a refrigerator and several lamps. (A refrigerator needs to run only 15 minutes an hour to stay cool if you keep the door closed. So, you could unplug it to operate other devices.)



Operate generators in open areas to ensure good air circulation.



Safely store fuel.



  • The challenge when you live in an apartment is knowing howto safely store enoughgasoline.



  • Store a siphonkit.



Test your generator from time to time to make sure it will work when needed.



Some generators can connect to the existing home wiring systems; always contact your utility company regarding critical restrictions and safety issues.



Rechargeable Batteries



If you use hearing aids, keep a supply of hearing aid batteries on hand.



Create a plan for how to recharge batteries when the electricity is out.



Check with your vendor/supplier to find alternative ways to charge batteries. Examples include:

  • Connecting jumper cables to a vehiclebattery.
  • Using a converter that plugs into a vehicle's cigarette lighteror accessoryoutlet.



If you substitute a vehicle battery for a wheelchair battery, the charge will not last as long as a charge for a wheelchair’s deep-cycle battery.



If you use a motorized wheelchair or scooter, try to store a lightweight manual wheelchair for emergency use.



Stored extra batteries require periodic charging even when they are unused. If your survival strategy depends on storing batteries, closely follow a recharging schedule.



Know the working time of any batteries that support your systems.



When you have a choice, choose equipment that uses batteries that are easily purchased from nearby stores.



When Power is Restored



Check to make sure the settings on your medical device have not changed (medical devices often reset to a default mode when power goes out).



Other Backup Plans













For more information, call and speak to an ADA specialist at 1-800-949-4232. All calls are confidential.

Content was developed by the Pacific ADA Center, and is based on professional consensus of ADA experts and the ADA National Network.


The contents of this factsheet were developed under grants from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant numbers 90DP0081 and 90DP0086). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this factsheet do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

© Copyright 2017 ADA National Network. All Rights Reserved.
May be reproduced and distributed freely with attribution to ADA National Network (www.adata.org).