Emergency Plans for those with Disabilities
When an emergency occurs, often it is those that are the best prepared that are able to get to safety the fastest. Yet, there are those such as the elderly or the disabled that may need additional assistance in order to safely evacuate the area. To assist them, it is best to create an emergency plan or strategy to ensure the safety of those that you hold dear.
Plan ahead to ensure that your loved ones are prepared for an disaster. Make a kit. The kit should hold all of the essential elements that may be necessary in case there is no electricity or water. Below are a number of suggested items to include in the kit.
- Map of the local area
- Extra set of keys (car, house, etc.)
- Plastic garbage bags
- Family and friends’ emergency contact information
- Pack of playing cards to provide entertainment
- Flashlight and bulbs
- Batteries (Include an additional set of batteries)
- Matches in waterproof container
- Manual can opener
- Cell phone with an extra battery and charger (s)
- Whistle (to attract the attention of emergency personnel)
- Battery operated or crank radio
Toiletries, Clothing and First Aid Items
- First aid kit and manual
- A change of clothing
- Blanket ( one for each person)
- Sanitation and hygiene items (toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrush, feminine products)
Emergency Documents and Money
- Photocopies of personal documents and identification
- Insurance agent’s name and number
- Cash and coins (ATMs may not available)
- A waterproof case to protect the above mentioned important documents
Food and Water
- Include non-perishable food items that do not need to be cooked. ( dried and canned food, jerky, etc.)
- Three-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day)
Next, make a plan. Assess the areas of the plan that your disabled or elderly loved one may have difficulty with during emergency evacuation. Is your loved one deaf, visually impaired or mentally disabled? Will they be able hear the alarm or see the flashes of light from the fire alarm if it goes off? Will they have the ability to interpret alarms? Continue to assess the probable problem areas for evacuation. For example, if your family member lives in an upper-level apartment with an elevator, you may need to check to see if the elevator will automatically go to the first floor in the event of an emergency. If so, will your loved one be able to walk down the flight stairs?
If your loved one is visually impaired, you may need to ensure that the television has the appropriate setting to receive crawl noises , which alert the visually impaired to emergencies. Furthermore, you should consider other devices for means of communication in case the television is not on. Most hearing impaired use TDD or TDY ( type-telecommunication system).
Choose an emergency meeting place. Place emergency contact numbers by the phone or on the refrigerator. Get an alert system. If your loved one is in a wheelchair but lives above the first floor, perhaps, choose a new room or apartment that is wheelchair accessible without an elevator, so that an elevator is no longer a problem in case of an emergency.
Once you are aware of the special areas of your emergency plan that may need additional attention, begin to practice them. For example, if your relative is mentally impaired, then practice making emergency calls on the phone so that your relative is aware of what to do during the event of an emergency.
Next, ensure that you have all the equipment that you need, for example, do you have a TDD machine for the hearing impaired? Is it working correctly? Also, check to make sure that those with hearing aids have it set to the appropriate level for hearing an emergency alarm. Make sure there are batteries for the hearing aid, and ensure that your relative will keep the hearing at the appropriate level so that they can hear the alarm in case of an emergency.
Finally, practice the actual emergency procedures. Makes sure that your disabled loved ones know the steps to take in case of emergency. For example, practice making emergency calls. Go through the emergency plan together. Perhaps, even do a mock run of the emergency plan. All of these steps can assist in making sure that your loved is safe in the event of an emergency.
- Disaster Preparedness: Written for and by seniors
- Disaster Planning for Disabled and Elderly Populations
- Disaster Planning Tips for Caregivers : Tips offered by the University of Florida
- Example of an Emergency Disaster Plan: Gives examples of the type of information that you need to know when making your plan, for example, all available exits
- National Terror Alert Emergency Plan: Homeland Security tips for creating an emergency plan
- Disaster Planning Tips for Older People and Their Families: Tips offered by the Center for Disease Control on creating an emergency plan
- Hurricane Disaster Plan for the Elderly