Persons with Disabilities
Individuals with or without disabilities can lessen the impact of a disaster by taking steps to prepare before an event occurs. Results from focus groups conducted by the National Organization on Disability’s Emergency Preparedness Initiative (EPI) indicate that people with disabilities need to be more self-reliant in emergencies.
You can take small steps every day to become better able to survive an emergency. Get informed, identify your resources, make a plan, and create a Ready Kit and a Go Bag. Start today to become better prepared, safer, and more secure.
Learn about the types of hazards that may impact your community (blizzards, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and so on). You can get information from your local Emergency Management Office.
Find out what emergency plans are in place in your community, workplace, service agencies, etc. Determine whether those plans have considered your functional needs.
Identify the plan for notifying people when a disaster may be on its way or actually occurring.
Consider how a disaster might affect your daily routines. Make a list of your specific needs before, during, and after a disaster.
Make a list of family, friends, co-workers, personal attendants, service providers, and others who can be part of your plan. Include people both in and outside of your immediate neighborhood or community, like a relative in another state. Talk to these people and ask them to be part of your support network.
Work with your support network to develop an emergency plan. Have a plan for home, work, school, or any other place you spend time regularly.
Make a plan that includes various hazards that can strike your community. Apply contingencies you use daily to deal with power outages or transportation delays or breakdowns. This will help you as you consider larger disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and terrorism.
Create a communication plan. Make sure you and your support network share contact information and alternate ways to communicate if phones are not working. Strategies may include agreeing to meet at an assigned place, or using pagers, email, or other technology not reliant on phone lines.
Make an evacuation plan for home, work, school, and other situations. Identify a primary and secondary way to evacuate the house or building. If necessary, look into evacuation assistive devices, or the installation of ramps at emergency exits. Identify an area where public safety officials can assist you in any building you visit regularly. Contact the building safety director for help. If you require accessible transportation to evacuate an area, identify public and private resources that will help you.
Plan for different ways of sheltering. Consider what you can do to safely shelter in place. Consider how to shelter with friends and family. Finally, consider how a shelter designated for the public would meet your demands.
If you receive regular services (home health care, transportation, dialysis), make a plan with each service provider. Learn about their disaster plans and how to contact them in an emergency. Work with them to identify backup service providers.
YOUR PERSONAL SITUATION
If you require help evacuating a building, create a plan with the assistance of your support network.
If necessary, look into evacuation assistive devices, or the installation of ramps at emergency exits. Identify an area where public safety officials can assist you in any building you visit regularly. Contact the building safety director for help.
If you require accessible transportation to evacuate an area, identify public and private resources that will help you.
Consider the following when developing your plan:
Do you use communication devices?
Do you depend on accessible transportation to get to work, appointments, or to other places in your community?
Do you receive medical treatments (e.g. dialysis) on a regular basis?
Do you need assistance with personal care?
Do you rely on electrical equipment or other durable equipment?
Do you use mobility aids such as a walker, cane, or a wheelchair?
Do you have a service animal?
Ready Kit and Go Bag
A Ready Kit is a supply of items that you will need if you should have to shelter in place or rely on your own resources for a few days. A Go Bag has fewer items, but they are the essential ones to take with you if you must evacuate quickly.
Common items include:
3-day supply of non-perishable food and manual can opener
3-day supply of water per person
Medical equipment and assistive devices (glasses, hearing aids, catheters, augmentative communication devices, canes, walkers), plus extra batteries and chargers
Medications, including a list with the prescription name, dosage, frequency, doctor, and pharmacist. If medications must be refrigerated, bring a cooler with an ice pack or other coolant system
List of emergency contact information including your support network members in and out of the region, service providers, etc.
Copies of important documents (birth certificate, passport, licenses, insurance information, proof of address)
Flashlight and radio with extra batteries
Cash, credit cards, checkbook, ATM card
Supplies for a service animal including food, identification tags, proof of vaccinations, and veterinarian contact information
White distress flag or cloth, whistle, flashlights and/or glow sticks
First aid kit
Written identification of your disability-related or health condition, or medical alert tags or bracelets
Many of these agencies provide materials in accessible formats and different languages:
National Organization on Disability /Emergency Preparedness Initiative
American Foundation for the Blind
Community Emergency Preparedness Information Network
Easter Seals (s.a.f.e.t.y. First program)
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Humane Society of the U.S. (Disaster Center)
National Association of the Deaf
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disability: Emergency Preparedness Toolkit
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
United Spinal Association