Hurricane Sandy left more than 6 million people without power. For most, this means a minor inconvenience. For people living with disabilities, though, a power outage can make life significantly more difficult.
Many people with disabilities rely on medical equipment to stay alive. For instance, seniors with COPD often rely on oxygen concentrators and ventilators to help them breathe. Without electricity, those with serious COPD can only breathe for a short period of time. This puts their lives in danger whenever the power goes out.
Other people with disabilities rely on medical devices to move through their homes. Even with backup batteries, electric wheelchairs and elevators cannot work very long.
This puts people with disabilities in a perilous position whenever a serious storm approaches.
Luckily, Hurricane Sandy gave everyone plenty of warning. At least 62 people died during the storm, but no reports have indicated that any of those deaths were the result of power outages or malfunctioning medical equipment.
Most people living with disabilities had several options to survive the storm. They could stay with relatives who live in areas away from the coastline. They could also contact area hospitals, which have large generators that can keep the power on even when the electricity company experiences an outage.
Others are not so lucky. Some people living with disabilities have outlived their family members. Even though they could contact a nearby hospital for support, they might not fully understand their options, especially if they have a disability that makes them confused or unaware of their surroundings.