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Power outages can impact health, and certain populations may be more at risk. Personal preparedness may reduce impacts, but information on power outage preparedness and risk perception among vulnerable populations is limited. We examined power outage preparedness and concern among New York City residents, including vulnerable populations defined as older adults (≥ 65 years), and respondents with household members who require assistance with daily activities or depend on electric medical devices. A random sample telephone survey was conducted during November–December 2016. Preparedness was defined as having a three-day supply of drinking water, non-perishable food, and a working flashlight. Among all respondents (n = 887), 58% were prepared and 46% expressed concern about health. Respondents with electric-dependent household members (9% of all respondents) tended to have higher preparedness (70 vs. 56% of respondents without electric-dependent household members). Among this group, only 40% reported being registered with a utility company to receive early notification of outages. While the subgroup sample was small, respondents with registered electric-dependent household members had lower preparedness than those with non-registered users (59 vs. 76%). Respondents with household members who needed assistance had comparable levels of preparedness to respondents without someone who needed assistance (59 vs. 57%). Older adults had greater preparedness than younger adults (65 vs. 56%). Health concerns were greater among all vulnerable groups than the general population. Levels of preparedness varied among vulnerable respondents, and awareness of power outage notification programs was low. Our findings highlight the need to increase awareness and preparedness among at-risk people.


This article was originally published in the Journal of Urban Health, available at DOI: 10.1007/s11524-018-0296-9.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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