Disaster Preparation for People with Disabilities
If you have a disability, you’ll want to be prepared for whatever type of situation you encounter. Here are some suggestions from Ready.gov on items you might want to add to your Go Kit:
Tips for Medications
- Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how you can create an emergency supply of medicines.
- Keep a list of your prescription medicines. Include information about your diagnosis, dosage, frequency, medical supply needs, and allergies.
- Store extra nonprescription drugs, like pain and fever relievers, antihistamines, and antidiarrheal medicines.
- Have a cooler and chemical ice packs available to chill medicines that need to be refrigerated.
Tips for People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
- A weather radio (with text display and a flashing alert)
- Extra hearing-aid batteries
- Pen and paper (in case you have to communicate with someone who does not know sign language)
- Battery-operated lantern to enable communication by sign language or lip-reading, especially when the electricity is out and it’s dark.
Tips for People Who are Blind or Have Low Vision
- Mark emergency supplies with Braille labels or large print. Keep a list of your emergency supplies and where you bought them on a portable flash drive or make an audio file that is kept in a safe place where you can access it.
- Keep communication devices for your particular needs, such as a Braille or deaf-blind communications device as part of your emergency supply kit.
Tips for People with Speech Disability
- If you use an augmentative communications device or other assistive technologies plan how you will evacuate with the devices or how you will replace equipment if it is lost or destroyed. Keep model information and note where the equipment came from (Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance, etc.).
- Plan how you will communicate with others if your equipment is not working, including laminated cards with phrases and/or pictograms.
Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities
- Keep handheld electronic devices charged and loaded with videos and activities.
- Purchase spare chargers for electronic devices and keep them charged.
- Include sheets and twine or a small pop-up tent (to decrease visual stimulation in a busy room or to provide instant privacy).
- Consider a pair of noise-canceling headphones to decrease auditory stimuli.
- Have comfort snacks available.
Tips for People with a Mobility Disability
- If you use a power wheelchair have a lightweight manual chair available as a backup if possible.
- Show others how to assemble, disassemble and operate your wheelchair.
- Purchase an extra battery for a power wheelchair or other battery-operated medical or assistive technology devices. If you can’t purchase an extra battery, find out what agencies, organizations or local charitable groups can help you buy one. Keep extra batteries charged at all times.
- Consider keeping a patch kit or can of sealant for flat tires and/or extra inner tube if the wheelchair or scooter is not puncture-proof.
- Keep an extra mobility device such as a cane or walker if you use one.
- Keep a portable air pump for wheelchair tires.
- If you use a seat cushion to protect your skin or maintain your balance and you must evacuate, consider keeping an extra cushion on hand.
- Communicate with neighbors who can assist you if you need to evacuate the building.
Tips for Individuals with Alzheimer’s and Related Dementia
- Do not leave the person alone. Even those who aren’t prone to wandering away may do so in unfamiliar environments or situations.
- If evacuating, help manage the change in environment by bringing a pillow and blanket or other comforting items they can hold onto.
- When at a shelter, try to stay away from exits and choose a quiet corner.
- If there is an episode of agitation, respond to the emotions being expressed. For example, say “You’re frightened and want to go home. It’s ok. I’m right here with you.”
- Supply of prescription medicines to last several days
- A list of all medications, dosage, and any allergies
- Extra eyeglasses, contacts, hearing aids, and batteries
- A backup supply of oxygen
- A list of the style and serial number of medical devices (include special instructions for operating your equipment if needed)
- Copies of insurance and Medicare cards
- Contact information for doctors, relatives, or friends who should be notified if you are hurt
Service & Comfort Animals
- Extra food and water for your animal
- Collar with ID tag
- Medical records
- Blanket or pet bed
- Tie out equipment or crate
- Food and water bowls
- Toys and treats
- A photo of you and your animal
If you need help designing your individual preparedness plan, contact Disability Network/Lakeshore. We’ll help you identify what you need to stay safe and comfortable. You can reach us at 616-396-5326 or www.dnlakeshore.org.