December 13, 2019
Increased risk of deadly wildfires is becoming our new reality in California. Because many fires are sparked by aging power infrastructure, massive power shut-offs are becoming a reality, too. Hopefully, the state will find long-term ways to address the situations that lead to fires and power shut-offs. Until then, we all need to take extra precautions—especially those of us who care for seniors and people with disabilities, who are sadly the most likely to be injured or die in a power shut-off or fire.
An important precaution you can take right now is to get on your power company’s “Medical Baseline” list. All customers are billed a residential rate set by a “Baseline Allowance” depending on climate zones and seasons. Additional allowances are made for customers who rely on life support equipment, have life-threatening illnesses or compromised immune systems.
Being on the Medical Baseline list may save you money, but it can also save your or your client’s life: Currently, power companies are using the Medical Baseline list as a guide to which customers may need advance or personalized notification such as door knocks in event of a power shut off.
Some of the equipment and conditions that may qualify a household for Medical Baseline:
To learn more about Medical Baseline eligibility, check with your local power company at the websites below:
Southern California Gas Company: https://www.socalgas.com/save-money-and-energy/assistance-programs/medical-baseline-allowance
As a union of caregivers, UDW is dedicated to protecting our members and clients during these events. We are advocating in Sacramento for better emergency planning and resources for the functional needs population—and for us to be compensated for the spoiled food and lost hours during evacuations and shut offs. We will keep you updated on any developments. In the meantime, please check your Medical Baseline status and help keep your client and family safer.
For more resources on public safety power shut-offs, visit this guide from the California Health and Human Services Agency: https://www.chhs.ca.gov/blog/2019/10/25/public-safety-power-shutoffs-resource-guide/
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