www.boston.com -- National Grid today is defending its policies on shutting down power to people's homes, after a woman who used oxygen therapy died following a power shutdown at her Salem, N.H., house. Kay Phaneuf, 53, died Thursday at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, Salem Fire Marshal Jeff Emanuelson said. She had been in critical condition since her husband found her unconscious that morning. Salem Police Captain Shawn Patten said this morning that Phaneuf's husband made the 911 call and police and firefighters arrived at about 10 a.m. Phaneuf did not have a pulse and CPR was immediately performed. After several attempts, she was resuscitated and rushed to the hospital. "It's fairly obvious that she needed to be hooked up to a machine to live, and the oxygen device that she required to live was no longer operable because there was no electricity," he said. David Graves, spokesman for the company, said he couldn't comment on the status of the woman's account. But he said the company sends out notices on bills that are a month late that customers need to submit overdue payments. After another month, they send a notice telling customers that they must pay or face shutoff of their power. After another two weeks, they send a notice saying that shutoff is imminent unless payment is made by a certain date. Graves said the state of New Hampshire also requires that a customer, if they have a medical condition that requires electricity in the house, send a letter to the power company every 60 days. That letter ensures that the power won't be shut off in case of non-payment. Graves said National Grid's own policy is the letter only needs to be sent every 90 days. He wouldn't comment on whether a letter had been sent in Phaneuf's case.
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