For some, power outages can be life-threatening

June 25, 2010 3:03:34 PM PDT
Area electric companies worked feverishly on Friday to restore power to thousands of people who were left in the dark after Thursday afternoon's powerful storms.

For some, being without power is an inconvenience but, for others, it can be a life-threatening situation.

"I thought at any moment I was just going to stop breathing," said 51-year-old Ava Terry. She depends on a ventilator to help her breathe at night. She also needs electricity for a device to keep her airway open.

When her power was knocked out by Thursday's storm, those machines stopped working. Her family called 911, which is how she ended up at Delaware County Memorial Hospital.

Dr. John Reilly says patients like Ava who depend on electricity should have an emergency plan for power outages or a small generator.

Meanwhile, homes without power are getting hotter, and people with medical conditions such as heart disease, emphysema and asthma could be in jeopardy.

Michelle Johnson of West Philadelphia says, without power, her daughter's asthma got worse.

"We sat on the porch until 4:00 in the morning because it was so hot. She was miserable, I had to keep giving her the inhaler last night," Johnson said.

Again, Dr. Reilly says have a plan to escape the heat and stay safe.

"Get a hold of family, friends, maybe get to an area mall or somewhere where there is AC or at least the air is moving," Dr. Reilly said.

If you have nowhere to go, call your city or town hall to find open shelters.

Also, if you have medications in the home and the temperature goes above 86 degrees, check with your pharmacists to see if your medication could be affected. Some can lose potency if they get warmer than room temperature.