Emergency Planning

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Do you have an emergency plan in place? The American Red Cross offers disaster preparedness tips specially tailored to help people with disabilities make a plan and prepare for everything from health emergencies in the home to evacuating during a natural disaster.

Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross Chapter to learn about community response plans, evacuation plans and designated emergency shelters.

Ask about the emergency plans and procedures that exist in places you and your family spend time (such as work, schools, senior care centers, and child care centers).

If you do not own a vehicle or drive, find out in advance what your community’s plans are for evacuating those without private transportation.

Ask about local emergency assistance programs. Many communities ask people with a disability to register with the local fire or police department or emergency management office, so needed help can be provided quickly in an emergency.

Let your personal care attendant know you have registered, and with whom.

If you are electric-dependent, be sure to register with your local utility company.

If you or someone in your household uses a wheelchair, make exits and escape routes from your home wheelchair accessible. Practice emergency evacuation drills at least two times a year, or any time you update your emergency plan or change the layout of your home’s furniture. Be sure to include family and/or your personal care attendant in the drills.

Prepare for Different Hazards: Include in your plan how to prepare for each hazard that could impact your local community. For instance, most people shelter in a basement when there is a tornado warning, but most basements are not wheelchair-accessible. Determine in advance what your alternative shelter will be and how you will get there.

Confirm upon arrival at an emergency shelter that it can meet your care needs.

Do you have a medical alert system that allows you to call for help if you are immobilized in an emergency? Most alert systems require a working phone line, so have a back-up plan, such as a cell phone, if the regular landlines are disrupted.

If you use an electric wheelchair or scooter, have a manual wheelchair for backup.

Teach those who may need to assist you in an emergency how to operate necessary equipment. Also, label equipment and attach laminated instructions for equipment use.

Arrange for more than one person from your personal support network to check on you in an emergency, so there is at least one back-up if the primary person you rely is unable to.

Learn more at www.redcross.org.

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