New BREATHE campaign helps plan for power outages

The Super Derecho storm of 2009 is hard to forget for many in the Marion, Illinois, area. The high winds knocked out power for days, even weeks at a time for some people.

Many families have a plan in place in case of a fire or tornado, but are you prepared if the power goes out for days at a time? The new BREATHE program aims to help you prepare for that.

Short for Being prepared, Reserving medical supplies, Establishing a support team, Finding alternative power sources, Talking with medical equipment providers, Home emergency kit readiness and Emergency communication with others, the BREATHE campaign was created by area businesses and leaders. 

The Super Derecho toppled trees left thousands without power, making it difficult for people even to get home. The major wind event is still fresh in Laura Cochrum’s memory.

"It did a lot of damage. We had people out for miles without power, people on life sustaining equipment like oxygen and nebulizers," said Cochrum, a customer service representative for Home Health Solutions.

The community’s need for help during that storm inspired area businesses and leaders to create the BREATHE campaign to help people plan ahead for power outages.

When you’re educated on what to do in case of an emergency, it makes things a lot less scary," said Angie Tresso, with Home Health Solutions. Bi-County Health Department credits Tresso as one of the first groups to help with BREATHE.

If you have medical issues, you can prepare for power outages by stocking up on home medical equipment. With a portable oxygen unit, for example, you’ve got a rechargeable battery you can charge from your car if you need to. BREATHE also recommends making a supply kit, putting a backup power system in place and creating a network of friends that can help you out if you need it.

Ronda Koch at Franklin Williamson Bi-County Health says a $37,000 grant will soon allow BREATHE to expand beyond its current borders.

"May, June, July, we’ll be able to offer these magnets and resources to other regions, other jurisdictions in the state in the southern Illinois area,” said Koch.

"Unless you have something like that to fall back on, you’ve got nothing. And those people who rely on oxygen to live, they have to have something," Cochrum said.

They say preparing for emergencies now could save a life the next time the power goes out.

For more information on how your business can prepare with BREATHE, contact the Bi-County Health Department at 618-993-8111. For more information on what kind of medical supplies you should be stocking up on in case of a power outage, contact your local medical supplier.

Related Articles