Where will you, your family, your friends be when an emergency or disaster strikes? You, and those you care about, could be anywhere – at home, work, school or in transit. How will you find each other? Will you know your loved ones will be safe?
Emergencies and disasters can strike quickly and without warning and can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services – water, gas, electricity or telephones – were cut off?
1. Get informed
2. Make a plan
3. Assemble a kit
4. Maintain your plan and kit
Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility.
CREATE A PERSONAL SUPPORT NETWORK
A personal support network can help you prepare for an emergency. They can do this by helping you identify and get the resources you need to cope effectively.
Organize a network that includes your home, workplace and any other places where you spend a lot of time. Members of your network can be roommates, relatives, neighbors, friends, and co-workers. They should be people you trust and who can check to see if you need assistance. They should know your capabilities and needs, and be able to provide help within minutes.
COMPLETE A PERSONAL ASSESSMENT
Decide what you will be able to do for yourself and what assistance you may need before, during and after an emergency. This will be based on the environment, your capabilities and your limitations.
To perform a personal assessment, make a list of your personal needs and your resources for meeting them in a disaster environment. Think about the following questions, note your answers in writing or record them on a tape cassette that you will share with your network. These answers should describe both your current capabilities and the assistance you will need. Base your plan on your lowest anticipated level of functioning.
- Personal Care Do you regularly need assistance with personal care, such as bathing and grooming? Do you use adaptive equipment to help you get dressed?
- Water Service What will you do if water service is cut off for several days or if you are unable to heat water?
- Adaptive Feeding Devices Do you use special utensils that help you prepare or eat food independently?
- Electricity-Dependent Equipment How will you continue to use equipment that runs on electricity, such as dialysis, electrical lifts, etc.? Do you have a safe back-up power supply and how long will it last?
- Getting Around How will you cope with the debris in your home or along your planned exit route following the emergency?
- Getting Help How will you call or summon for the help you will need to leave the building? Do you know the locations of text telephones and phones that have amplification? Will your hearing aids work if they get wet from emergency sprinklers?
Have you determined how to communicate with emergency personnel if you don’t have an interpreter, your hearing aids aren’t working, or if you don’t have a word board or other augmentative communication device?
How will you contact your loved ones?
Once your questions have been identified, an action plan can be made and a kit assembled with your basic needs to support a loved one in an emergency or disaster. Make a plan A and a plan B! Always remember it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to our loved ones.