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What to do after a hurricane if you use a home medical device

Consumer Reports News: October 30, 2012 12:38 PM

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If you rely on electricity for home medical equipment like an oxygen tank, ventilator, medical bed, wheel chair, or blood glucose monitor, losing power can be much more than an inconvenience. Your first step should be to call your electric company and fire department to let them know that you have a medical device that needs power. While you wait for power to be restored or help to come, here's some advice from the U.S. Food and Drug and Administration on what else to do:

  • Read your user instructions or call your distributor or device manufacturer to find out if your device can be used with batteries or a generator.
  • If it can, hook the device up to a generator if possible.
  • Make sure you check for water before plugging in your device. Don't plug in a power cord if the cord or the device is wet.
  • 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).
  • If you use a blood glucose meter, check the meter and test strip package insert for information on use during unusual heat and humidity.

For details, see the tips from the FDA on using medical devices during hurricanes and other emergencies. And see our post-Hurricane Sandy survival tips as well as our advice on home blood glucose meters and home blood pressure monitors.

Joel Keehn

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