Between the pandemic and an avalanche of natural disasters, the past year and a half has reminded all of us about the importance of emergency preparedness. For older adults and people with disabilities, it’s even more critical to be ready should disaster strike.
For example, those with mobility challenges face greater risk when a disaster such as a hurricane or fire demands that they vacate their homes quickly. In addition, during natural disasters or emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, their ability to obtain food, medicine, personal assistance and medical care may be compromised. How can people with disabilities keep themselves safe?
- Ready.gov recommends individuals with disabilities stay abreast of any weather disasters forecasted in their areas. “Keep a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to your local emergency station and monitor TV and radio. Follow mobile alerts and warnings about severe weather in your area.”
- Download the FEMA app to receive “real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide.”
Have a plan
- Ready.gov suggests creating a support network of individuals willing to help and keep in touch with you in case of an emergency. These may be family members, friends or people at your school, workplace or volunteer job. Keep their contact information in a safe and waterproof place.
- Consider all your day-to-day needs such as medication; food supply; accessible transportation; medical equipment; communication devices; and access to medical facilities and determine how you will get these needs fulfilled should an emergency occur.
- If communication is an issue for you, prepare “laminated pictograms and keep Braille/text communication cards, if used, for two-way communication,” Ready.gov recommends.
- Don’t forget your pets. If you need to evacuate, take your furry friend with you, but be aware that you may not be able to take him or her to an emergency shelter. Enlist the help of a family member friend or veterinary office that can take care of your pet while you’re out of your home.
Create an emergency kit that includes:
- Three-day supply of food and water
- Portable electric radio or TV with extra batteries
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First-aid kit
- Sanitation items such as toilet paper, wipes and hand sanitizer
- Clothing and blankets
- Copies of all identification documents and credit cards
Homeowners’ insurance company Bankrate recommends seniors and individuals with disabilities take certain precautions to ensure that their cars are properly outfitted in case they need to leave their homes immediately:
- Purchase a siren alarm. “Compatible with both your home and vehicle, a siren alert is an easy way to call for help in an emergency, especially for those drivers with hearing loss,” writes Lena Borrelli for Bankrate.
- Install assist bar or strap. Make sure your car is a sturdy assist bar or strap so that you can get in and out of the car in a hurry, says Bankrate.
- Invest in safety features. If you’re in the market for a new or used car, you might be surprised to learn about the many new safety features that are standard in today’s automobiles. Look for cars with features such as hands-free navigation, lane keeping assistance, pedestrian detection, and forward collision warning, says Bankrate. These features can make all the difference, especially when the driver is reacting to the stress of an emergency.
Enabling Devices hopes that this blog post gets readers thinking about how to keep themselves safe in the event of an emergency. For more information and safety tips please visit ready.gov, RedCross.org, CDC.org and bankrate.com.