Every September we have taken time to recognize National Preparedness Month and share research and resources to help people with disabilities prepare for emergencies, large and small, and to help communities prepare to support their members with disabilities through these emergencies. This September, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced Prepare to Protect: Preparing for Disasters is Protecting Everyone You Love as the theme, with weekly focus themes throughout the month.
This week’s theme is Low-Cost and No-Cost Preparedness, highlighting proactive steps we can take today to be prepared for what may come tomorrow. We love this theme, because it gives us some small steps that are easy to act on without having to worry about the cost or the time it might take. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to think about all the things you need to do to be prepared, but a lot of small steps can add up to a lot of preparedness. For example: signing up for alerts from FEMA or from your local or tribal emergency management agency, taking some time to organize important documents (PDF) and store them in a water-safe container or scan to a thumb or cloud drive, and checking your store of flashlights and batteries to make sure everything works when it’s needed.
To add to FEMA’s excellent resources, we’ve gathered a few low- and no-cost preparedness resources from the NIDILRR community and elsewhere to help you take those small steps to safety!
- Check that your cell phone alerts are up to date and usable: From the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Inclusive Technologies – Understand what wireless emergency alerts are and how to customize them in Android (video).
- Take care of your wheeled mobility equipment: From the Spinal Cord Injury Model System Centers – Resources on Safe Wheelchair Transfer and Wheelchair Maintenance resources including a free course on the basics of wheelchair maintenance.
- Create and review checklists for your home, your family, yourself, and your service animals or pets: From the Research and Training Center on Independent Living – Prepared Lifestyle.
- Caregivers may also want to create and review checklists, particularly those who support people with cognitive disabilities, dementia, or Alzheimer’s: National Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center – Disaster Planning Toolkit for People Living with Dementia.
In addition to these, you may want to connect with resources in your community to learn what they offer with regards to preparedness. The Center for Independent Living and/or Aging and Disability Resource Center serving your county may have preparedness training and free or low-cost preparedness resources. They may also be a lifeline for help after an emergency. Your state’s Assistive Technology Program office may also have these resources. They can also help in maintaining or replacing assistive technology which may be damaged during emergencies.
If you’re ready to tackle a few more of those small steps toward preparedness, check out our 2019 series on emergency preparedness resources for different disability groups:
- Emergency Preparedness and People with Visual Disabilities.
- Emergency Preparedness and People with Auditory Disabilities.
- Emergency Preparedness and People with Mobility Disabilities.
- Emergency Preparedness and People with Psychiatric Disabilities.
- Emergency Preparedness and People with Intellectual, Developmental, or Cognitive Disabilities.
Please contact our Information Specialists if we can connect you to more information, resources, or organizations to help you Prepare to Protect!