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The Dangers of Power Outages During Hot Weather

Hot weather in a place like Nevada can create life-threatening conditions. When a power interruption turns off air conditioners, the interiors of Nevada homes can quickly become dangerously hot. People in at-risk populations should be especially mindful of how heat can be harmful to them. But their loved ones should also keep in mind that when the power goes out, a vulnerable person may need help getting out of the heat.

Heath risks of exposure to excessive heat

People who stay too long in hot environments can suffer a range of potentially serious health effects. This is especially true of infants and toddlers under the age of four, and seniors over the age of 65. It is also true of people with other health conditions, such as obesity, and people who take certain drugs or who abuse alcohol.

Heat exhaustion is a common consequence of overheating. It is characterized by heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, and can be accompanied by dizziness, headache, nausea, and other symptoms. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can turn into heatstroke, a potentially life-threatening condition. A person with heatstroke has a body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, and may act confused, suffer seizures, or fall into a coma. If someone is suffering from heatstroke it’s essential to call 911 right away. The condition can be mitigated by placing the person in a bathtub filled with cold water, spraying them with a garden hose, or by using ice, but “home remedies” should not be relied upon to solve the issue.

Can a utility be sued for damages arising from a power outage?

Power interruptions can cause a lot of problems: spoiled food, voltage spikes that destroy electronics, and so on. But heat-related deaths are probably the most dramatic and tragic potential consequences. A public utility may be legally liable for injuries that arise form a power outage, but to prevail a plaintiff seeking compensation must be able to prove that the utility was negligent, and that this negligence was the legal (or proximate) cause of the plaintiff’s injury.

What sort of facts might support a claim of negligence? This can be a tricky question to answer. For starters, the plaintiff probably must establish that the utility knew something about the risk of power outage before the event, but didn’t take reasonable steps to address the problem. For example, it may be negligence if a power pole has been leaning dangerously for some time and the utility has simply ignored it. In reality such facts are rare, because utilities routinely inspect their lines to prevent more expensive problems from arising. As a rule, each case needs to be analyzed according to its specific facts.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases. If a power outage has caused you or someone you love to suffer a serious injury, call us today to explore your legal options. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.