Disability impacts every demographic group and disability can impact a person in a variety of ways—both visible and invisible. For people with disabilities and their families, it is important to consider individual circumstances and needs to effectively prepare for emergencies and disasters.
Make a Plan
In the event of a disaster could you make it on your own for several days? After a disaster you may not have access to a medical facility or even a drugstore. It’s crucial to plan for your daily needs and know what you would do if they become limited or unavailable.
Additional planning steps include:
Create a support network of people who can help you in a disaster. Keep a contact list in a watertight container in your emergency kit or on your electronic devices.
Inform your support network where you keep your emergency supplies. You may want to consider giving a trusted member a key to your house or apartment.
Plan ahead for accessible transportation that you may need for evacuation or getting around during or after disaster. Check with local transit providers as well as with your emergency management agency to identify appropriate accessible options.
If you are on dialysis or other life-sustaining medical treatment know the location and availability of more than one facility that can help you.
If you use medical equipment in your home that requires electricity, talk to your doctor or health care provider about what you may be able to do to keep it running during a power outage. You can also ask your power provider to put you on a list for priority power restoration.
About half of all Americans take a prescription medicine every day. An emergency can make it difficult for them to refill their prescription or to find an open pharmacy. Organize and protect your prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and vitamins to prepare for an emergency.
Wear medical alert tags or bracelets. Also add pertinent medical information to your electronic devices.
If you have a communication disability consider carrying printed cards or storing information on your devices to inform first responders and others how to communicate with you.
If you use assistive technologies, plan how you will evacuate with the devices or how you will replace equipment if lost or destroyed.
Locate and access your electronic health records from a variety of sources by using the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' online health records tool.
Plan for children and adults who may have difficulty in unfamiliar or chaotic environments. Consider your service or support animal or pets and plan for food, water and supplies. If you need to evacuate, you’ll need to know whether your shelter allows pets or not, since some shelters only allow service or support animals.
Keep a list of the nearest medical facilities, local hospitals and nearest transportation.
Build a Kit
After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for several days. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.
Knowing if a disaster is going to hit, or what to do afterwards is just as important as your plan and kit. There are several ways to stay informed about potential or actual disasters in your community. Here are a few to consider:
Subscribe and like the social media channels for your local news, emergency management, and fire and police departments. Emergency management and first responder agencies will share information on social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter, that can help you stay informed and know what to do in the event of a disaster.
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs)
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are short emergency messages from authorized federal, state, local, tribal and territorial public alerting authorities that can be broadcast from cell towers to any WEA‐enabled mobile device in a locally targeted area. WEAs can be sent by state and local public safety officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the President of the United States.
Emergency Alert System (EAS)
The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national public warning system that allows the president to address the nation within 10 minutes during a national emergency. State and local authorities may also use the system to deliver important emergency information such as weather information, imminent threats, AMBER alerts, and local incident information targeted to specific areas.
NOAA Weather Radio (NWR)
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations that broadcast continuous weather information from the nearest National Weather Service office based on your physical location.
FEMA Mobile App
The FEMA App allows you to receive real-time weather and emergency alerts, send notifications to loved ones, locate emergency shelters in your area, get preparedness strategies and more.
Being individually prepared for a disaster is important. Participating in volunteer organizations and Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC) is even better. Your perspective and experience as a person with a disability can help inform how emergency managers and first responders support people with disabilities during a disaster or emergency. Contact your county and tribal emergency manager today to participate in your Local Emergency Planning Committee.
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If you have questions, need additional information, or would like support developing your own personal emergency plan, contact us.