For the millions of Americans who have physical, medical, sensory or cognitive disabilities, emergencies such as fires, floods and acts of terrorism present a real challenge. The same challenge also applies to the elderly and other special needs populations. Protecting yourself and your family when disaster strikes requires planning ahead. This information will help you get started. Discuss these ideas with your family, friends and/or your personal care attendant, or anyone else in your support network and prepare an emergency plan.
Where will you, your family, your friends or personal care attendants be when an emergency or disaster strikes?
You, and those you care about, could be anywhere – at home, work, school or in transit. How will you find each other? Will you know your loved ones will be safe?
Emergencies and disasters can strike quickly and without warning and can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services – water, gas, electricity or telephones – were cut off?
Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away.
You are in the best position to plan for your own safety as you are best able to know your functional abilities and possible needs during and after an emergency or disaster situation. You can cope with disaster by preparing in advance with your family and care attendants. Youwill need to create a personal support network and complete a personal assessment. You will also need to follow the four preparedness steps listed below.
1. Get informed
2. Make a plan
3. Assemble a kit
4. Maintain your plan and kit
Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility.
What You Need to Do
CREATE A PERSONAL SUPPORT NETWORK
A personal support network (sometimes called a self-help team) can help you prepare for a disaster. They can do this by helping you identify and get the resources you need to cope effectively. Network members can also assist you after a disaster happens.
Organize a network that includes your home, school, workplace, volunteer site, and any other places where you spend a lot of time. Members of your network can be roommates, relatives, neighbors, friends, and co-workers. They should be people you trust and who can check to see if you need assistance. They should know your capabilities and needs, and be able to provide help within minutes.
Do not depend on only one person. Include a minimum of three people in your network for each location where you regularly spend a lot of time since people work different shifts, take vacations and are not always available.
COMPLETE A PERSONAL ASSESSMENT
Decide what you will be able to do for yourself and what assistance you may need before, during and after a disaster. This will be based on the environment after the disaster, your capabilities and your limitations.
To complete a personal assessment, make a list of your personal needs and your resources for meeting them in a disaster environment. Think about the following questions and note your answers in writing or record them on a tape cassette that you will share with your network. These answers should describe both your current capabilities and the assistance you will need. Base your plan on your lowest anticipated level of functioning.
Do you regularly need assistance with personal care, such as bathing and grooming? Do you use adaptive equipment to help you get dressed?
What will you do if water service is cut off for several days or if you are unable to heat water?
Personal Care Equipment
Do you use a shower chair, tub-transfer bench or other similar equipment?
Adaptive Feeding Devices
Do you use special utensils that help you prepare or eat food independently?
How will you continue to use equipment that runs on electricity, such as dialysis, electrical lifts, etc.? Do you have a safe back-up power supply and how long will it last?