With scorching temperatures and threatening brush fires, there’s renewed conversation on heat and health in California. But there isn’t enough attention on the health consequences for families who face a power shutoff.
We have a public health imperative to protect these people. This is precisely what Senate Bill 598 seeks to do. Introduced by Sen. Ben Hueso, a San Diego Democrat, and supported by housing, public health and consumer advocates, the bill would ban shutoffs for low-income families with someone on life support equipment, under home hospice care or needing heat or cooling to survive a life-threatening illness.
Without air conditioning, individuals with limited mobility must sweat it out in their homes, unable to reach community cooling centers. Other patients need refrigerated food or medications such as insulin. The risk of food poisoning, dehydration and heat stroke is worsened.
The question is not whether or not to support the common-sense bill, but rather, why have we failed to protect these families in the past?
Justine Marcus is a policy fellow at The Utility Reform Network and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org