March 21, 2023

Health Mettler Institute

Healthy LifeStyle & Education

‘It’s very scary’: What to do about home medical equipment during power outages in Texas

‘It’s very scary’: What to do about home medical equipment during power outages in Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) — “I would die. I mean, I cannot breathe without it,” explained Kathie Anderson.

About a yr back, she was diagnosed with Persistent obstructive pulmonary sickness and is dependent on a machine for oxygen 24/7.

“It consistently cycles the oxygen… it has energy, so if the lights go out, the electric goes out, that will shut off. There’s no backup to it,” she said.

Anderson has a few of backup portable tanks but every single 1 is only superior for two hrs, she reported.

“I named them to have them deliver me some far more,” she reported of her oxygen tank supplier. “They’re not likely to deliver nearly anything until eventually the very first because of the roads.”

As Texans brace for potential ability outages throughout this week’s ice storm, an outage poses a significantly unsafe menace for any person like Anderson, relying on oxygen or other medically-necessary, electrically-powered tools.

“I can not be the only one on oxygen. It just can’t be the only a single sitting in this making fearful about this. But nonetheless, no one arrived below to inform us what we could do. No person despatched us e-mails,” Anderson mentioned.

Which is why she reached out to KXAN.

Anderson lives in Georgetown, which we discovered out has a record of medically vulnerable people today. We also found out Williamson County does, much too, by means of the state’s registry. A county spokesperson mentioned folks can also get in touch with 211 for means.

Anderson designs to signal up for both the city and county lists.

“That would enable out a good deal. It would give me peace of intellect to know that any individual out there might look at on me and, and if I am getting an difficulty, they can assistance,” she claimed.

Community and condition officials urge any person in this situation to simply call 911 if they get rid of electric power and have to have assistance. 

KXAN investigators uncovered condition crisis officials, particular electrical power vendors and a lot of Texas municipalities preserve lists of medically vulnerable people in their spots — in buy to monitor and react to the most at-hazard residences through storms and disasters.

Check out the resources and methods to register for these lists beneath, dependent on your locale.


The Texas Office of Emergency Management (TDEM) operates a free plan known as STEAR, or the Condition of Texas Crisis Assistance Registry, to assist community crisis planners and 1st responders track the requires of individuals in their communities.

TDEM encourages the adhering to Texans to sign up:

  • Folks with disabilities
  • Individuals who are medically fragile
  • Individuals with access and useful demands this sort of as:
  • Persons who have confined mobility
  • Men and women who have interaction barriers
  • People who demand more healthcare aid in the course of an unexpected emergency occasion
  • Persons who need transportation aid
  • Folks who call for particular care aid

Registering does not guarantee any specific company throughout an crisis or make certain that registrants’ electrical power will continue to be on, TDEM says on its web page. Providers made available from becoming on the registry range by community.

Nearly 100 of the state’s 254 counties at present participate in the system. More than 120 towns also take part. To check out whether your community is involved, simply click below.

To sign up or get additional info, click below.

Electricity vendors

The Community Utility Fee of Texas, which regulates utility providers, has specified buyer security regulations that involve specified customers to be suitable for specific designations. Household shoppers can be labeled as possibly Vital Care or Chronic Situation Prospects.

A spokesperson for Oncor Vitality explained to KXAN it retains a record of these essential buyers, but they also reminded folks the designation does not warranty electrical power.

The enterprise “works difficult to prioritize” these customers when their energy needs to be restored, the spokesperson reported, but “unfortunately it is however probable for a power outage to come about, in particular throughout probably serious temperature like what we’re at the moment going through.”

To learn extra about how to register for these designations as an Oncor customer, simply click listed here.

Pedernales Electrical Cooperative, which serves parts north, west and south of Austin, offers a Professional medical Necessity Software where folks count on lifetime-sustaining electrical products. According to its site, “when prepared outages or support interruptions for nonpayment are scheduled, we will endeavor advance see so preparations can be created.”

To find out much more about this program and sign up, simply click right here.


The City of Austin and Austin Energy continue to keep a registry of utility clients with a prolonged-time period sickness, ailment or vital sickness. This does not involve nursing dwelling residents or clinic individuals, but rather residential consumers in their houses.

Prospects eligible for the software get more time to fork out their charges and distinctive notice from city personnel and partnering social services companies — specially during storms and disasters. A spokesperson for Austin Vitality instructed KXAN investigators its staff members will work with prospects in the program to generate an crisis approach, which includes backup electric power sources or a harmless location to relocate, alongside with an emergency get in touch with.

“We’re accomplishing wellness checks to all our [medically vulnerable] clients, earning confident the lights are on almost everything is okay, and every little thing is heading as prepared for them,” reported Ronnie R. Mendoza, Austin Electricity customer support software manager.

He stated his workforce of about 16 is activated all through this storm, contacting buyers and heading door-to-doorway, if required.

“We collaborate with all our other town departments and our counterparts to make sure that we can get people to a secure position,” Mendoza reported.

He claimed if just one of these medically susceptible customers’ electrical power goes out, his crew will get a notification and will arrive at out to them.

In January 2022, Austin experienced 190 registered in their Medically Vulnerable Registry.

This 12 months, Mendoza explained they have all over 300, with another 100 who are “pending,” which means they’ve applied but haven’t been authorised, still. He stated they are examining in on these prospects, much too.

He reported they update their list and contact data just about every quarter.

To sign up or for much more info, simply click right here.


In the occasion of power or water outages, the City of Bastrop keeps a healthcare registry. A spokesperson instructed KXAN the city’s Fire Main directs personnel to examine on these inhabitants to figure out and aid them in acquiring to a superior location with obtainable utility solutions or offering a loaner generator.

The spokesperson reported persons in Bastrop can register by contacting the buyer assistance business at 512-332-8830 or emailing them at [email protected] They can also sign up and get a lot more details in this article.

Cedar Park

A spokesperson for the town of Cedar Park pointed citizens to the Clinical Necessity Software as a result of Pedernales Electric Cooperative, the electric company in the town.

The spokesperson also suggested persons with crucial medical tools call 9-1-1 if they shed energy due to the fact “our initial responders can frequently help them with their tools about the mobile phone, and crews stand completely ready to reply with more enable and methods if needed.”


A spokesperson for the town of Georgetown pointed people to the application for PUC’s Crucial Care or Chronic Affliction designations. For much more info, click on listed here.


A spokesperson explained the City of Kyle and Hays County pulled modern STEAR knowledge, in buy to call “all medically fragile registrants as necessary.”

They also pointed people to Pedernales Electrical Cooperative’s application, due to the fact the town does not very own and work our electric utility. For any “life-threatening company interruption,” they suggested folks phone 911 or relocate to a clinical treatment facility by other implies. 

The spokesperson also reminded inhabitants they provide warming facilities, in case of popular energy outages, that they advocate “for all those with less acute wants.” 

For a lot more information on methods in Kyle, click on listed here.


According to TDEM data, Leander participates in the STEAR program. A spokesperson for the town also referred people to the Medical Requirement Method via Pedernales Electric powered Cooperative, the electrical company in Leander.

The spokesperson added, “Since this system does not warranty electrical services restoration, suitable people are also encouraged to determine other electrical power sources, these kinds of as possibly battery or generator backup, or in the circumstance of oxygen particularly, to have backup oxygen bottles on hand.”

The spokesperson also reminded citizens they can accessibility ability and heat at its short-term warming middle positioned in the Leander Activity Centre at 11880 Hero Way West, Ste. 600 as a result of Wednesday.


A spokesperson for the town of Pflugerville acknowledged that energy outages can be “especially concerning” for residents that rely on clinical devices. They echoed some others in asking these inhabitants to contact 9-1-1, expressing, “EMS will figure out the finest training course of motion on a case-by-circumstance foundation.”

The spokesperson also pointed persons to the PUC’s Crucial Care or Long-term Ailment designations as a result of Oncor, the area’s electrical power provider.

Spherical Rock

The town of Spherical Rock also gets a checklist of people who have indicated that they want guidance during an emergency from TDEM and the STEAR software, a spokesperson told KXAN.

Additionally, the city has identified residents with identical needs by means of its Community Chance Reduction program. The plan is effective to support discover, mitigate and prevent existence protection pitfalls, such as fires, according to the city’s web page. To learn additional about this method, click on right here.

A spokesperson for the method stated if / when there is a popular ability outage, firefighters go into the STEAR databases and test to concentrate in on that space affected, determining neighbors by their addresses.

He claimed they get in touch with people neighbors to check out in on them and see if they have any physical or health-related rapid requires.

They can also get their vehicles, which have inverters, to temporarily recharge battery-operated health-related devices, he said.