The likelihood that you and your family will recover from an emergency tomorrow often depends on the planning and preparation done today. While each person's abilities and needs are unique, every individual can take steps to prepare for all kinds of emergencies from fires and floods to potential terrorist attacks. By evaluating your own personal needs and making an emergency plan that fits those needs, you and your loved ones can be better prepared. This guide outlines commonsense measures individuals with disabilities, special needs, and their caregivers can take to start preparing for emergencies before they happen. Preparing makes sense for people with disabilities and special needs. Get prepared now.
The first step is to consider how an emergency might affect your individual needs. Plan to make it on your own, for at least three days. It's possible that you will not have access to a medical facility or even a drugstore. It is crucial that you and your family think about what kinds of resources you use on a daily basis and what you might do if those resources are limited or not available.
Depending On Your Needs, Items For Your Preparedness Kit May Include:
Extra eyeglasses, hearing aids if you have them, or have coverage for them
Battery chargers and extra batteries for hearing aids, motorized wheelchairs, or other battery-operated medical or assistive technology devices
Copies of medical prescriptions, doctors orders, and the style and serial numbers of the support devices you use
Medical alert tags or bracelets or written descriptions of your disability and support needs, in case you are unable to describe the situation in an emergency
Supplies for your service animal Medical insurance cards, Medicare/Medicaid cards, physician contact information, list of your allergies and health history
A list of the local non-profit or community-based organizations that know you or assist people with access and functional needs similar to yours.
A list of personal contacts, family and friends that you may need to contact in an emergency
A laminated personal communication board, if you might need assistance with being understood
If possible, extra medicine, oxygen, insulin, catheters, or other medical supplies you use regularly
If you use a motorized wheelchair, have a light weight manual chair available for emergencies. Know the size and weight of your wheelchair, in addition to whether or not it is collapsible, in case it has to be transported.
Even if you do not use a computer yourself, consider putting important information onto a portable thumb drive for easy transport in an evacuation.
Create a support network to help you plan for an emergency. Consider family, neighbors, friends, people who provide services to you, faith-based and community groups. Tell these people where you keep your emergency supplies. Give at least one member of your support network a key to your house or apartment.
If you receive dialysis or other life sustaining medical treatment, identify the location and availability of more than one facility and work with your provider to develop your personal emergency plan.
Show others how to operate your wheelchair or other assistive devices.
If you use in-home support services, Meals-on-Wheels, Life Alert or other support services, work with them to personalize emergency preparedness plans to meet your needs so you can keep in touch with them during and after an emergency. That contact may be your lifeline to other services in a disaster.
Work with local transportation and disability services (e.g., Paratransit, Independent Living Centers) to plan ahead for accessible transportation if you may need that for evacuation or other reasons during a disaster.
Develop back-up plans for personal assistance services, hospice, or other forms of in-home assistance.
Watch the Preparedness for People with Access and Functional Needs Video