What is your Emergency Plan?

Storm Front

You can’t turn on the television lately without hearing news of flooding, severe storms and tornados. According to the National Weather Service, “there have been more than 600 tornados during the month of April 2011”. This beats the previous set record of 267 tornados in one month in April 1974. The news stories of these tornado outbreaks of historic proportions leave many wondering, “how would I respond if I was faced with a disaster”?  That is a question everyone should be asking themselves. These emergency situations can make anyone feel helpless.  For millions of Americans who have special needs, emergency situations can present an even greater challenge. One of the most important things someone can do is to have a written personal plan in case of an emergency.

It is advised for everyone to have a personal plan in the event of an emergency. For those with special needs, disaster planning is all the more important to make sure their needs will be met in case their usual ways of support are not available to them during or after an emergency. It is also advised to create a support network and make sure that everyone is aware of your emergency plan.

Creating a support network is one of the most important things you can do to assure you will have the assistance you need during an emergency. A personal network can include people from home, school or workplace. You should include people you trust who will make sure to check in and see if you need assistance. They should know your capabilities and needs.

You should then share your emergency plan with your support network. Making a written emergency plan can help you prepare and cope with a disaster effectively and will assist your personal network or emergency crews in assisting you if you should need help.  Everyone in your support network should be given a copy of your emergency plan.  It is advisable to have multiple people in your support network to make sure there is always someone available to assist you.

You should list your personal needs and resources for meeting them in your plan. You should base your needs on your lowest anticipated level of functioning. There are all the typical things to consider when creating your plan such as where to meet family members and emergency contact information.  However, for those with disabilities there may be other considerations in writing a personal plan. Things to consider might be:  assistance necessary for personal care, a list of the type and model numbers of the medical devices you require, adaptive feeding devices, electrical dependence for equipment such as electric lifts or a dialysis machine, your ability to get around should there be debris, transportation needs, ability to evacuate a building or a service animal that may need assistance?

Writing a personal plan can help you assess a situation and put a plan in place. Ask yourself questions such as: What if there is a power outage and I am dependent on electrical medical devices? Do I have a back-up power? Have I registered with my local utility company to inform them that I am dependent on a electric medical device? How would I alert someone of a medical emergency situation? Do I need a medical alert system? If I can’t use my power wheelchair or scooter is there a manual one available for backup? Do people in my support group know how to operate my necessary equipment if I need assistance? Does my service animal have the proper license that would permit them to enter an emergency public shelter if I needed temporary housing?

It is a challenge for anyone who finds themselves in an emergency where they might be evacuated from their home or confined to their home during a disaster. It can be even more challenging for people with disabilities. The best way to be prepared for an emergency situation is to be responsible for your or your loved ones safety. Planning is the key. Writing a personal plan will help you become prepared and will also aide anyone who would need to assist you. When thinking of your emergency plan you should consider what needs you may have for getting emergency information, meeting daily living needs, getting around, evacuating and what resources are available to you should you be left without necessary adaptive equipment.

Writing an emergency plan, establishing a support network, creating a way to give quick information on how you can best be assisted and knowing your resources could potentially save your life or the life of a loved one. To learn more about emergency preparedness resources in the state of Indiana click here. You can also check out our loan library website here should you find yourself needing temporary use of an assistive technology device during an emergency.