Disasters, large and small, can happen at any time. Some we can predict, like hurricanes and snowstorms. Other strike with little warning, like earthquakes and wildfires. They can take out entire communities, or just one person’s home. The best thing we can do is be prepared. During National Preparedness Month, take some time to talk with your family as well as any personal care providers, and make a plan in case of the next emergency. Plans should include:
- What you may need to shelter in place.
- What you may need if you lose power, heat, or water (don’t forget meds that need refrigeration and supplies for service animals and pets).
- Where to go if you must leave your home or evacuate the area.
- What you need to bring with you.
- Whether the nearest shelter is accessible and can accommodate a service animal.
- How you will communicate with family members.
These are just a few starting points. Visit ready.gov and their section specifically for people with disabilities and access and functional needs for more important information.
The NIDILRR community has more resources to help you make a plan and be ready when disaster strikes:
- Webinars, web courses, and other resources from the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Community Living: http://rtcil.org/emergencypreparedness/resources
- Tips for making sure your wireless device is both accessible and emergency ready from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies: http://www.wirelessrerc.org/updated-resources-accessible-emergency-communication
- The Wireless RERC also helped produce and publish this guide and checklist published in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PDF): http://www.archives-pmr.org/article/S0003-9993(11)00833-1/pdf
- Webinar series from the Pacific ADA Regional Center and FEMA: http://www.adapacific.org/emergency/webinars.php
- The Northeast ADA Regional Center has a Business Continuity Brief (PDF) to help human service providers prepare so they can continue to support their clients with disabilities through periods of disaster.
So, gather the family, make a pot of tea, break out the pad and pen (or tablet and cloud storage*), and make your plan!
Curious about research and resources on emergency preparedness? Browse through more than 200 abstracts of articles, books, and reports from the NIDILRR community and elsewhere (including international research).
*Storing your plan online is a great idea, just make sure to print a copy or two for when the power and Internet access go out! If you already have a plan in place, now is a great time to review it, check that locations are current, and remove any expired items from your “go kit.”