For the millions of Americans with mobility problems, emergencies such as fires and floods present a special challenge. Protecting yourself and your family when disaster strikes requires planning ahead. This checklist will help you get started. Discuss these ideas with your family, friends, or a personal care attendant, and prepare an emergency plan. Post the plan where everyone will see it.
Call your local emergency management office or Red Cross chapter.
1) Ask what kind of disasters could occur in your area and how to prepare for each.
2) Ask how you would be warned of an emergency.
3) Ask about special assistance that may be available to you in an emergency. Many communities ask people with a disability to register, usually with the local fire department or emergency management office, so needed help can be provided quickly in an emergency.
4) Ask your supervisor about emergency plans at your workplace.
5) Ask your childrens' teachers and caregivers about emergency plans for schools and day-care centers.
6) If you currently use a personal care attendant obtained from an agency, check to see if the agency has special provisions for emergencies (e.g. providing services at another location should an evacuation be ordered).
Create a Plan
1) Meet with household members or your personal care attendant. Discuss the dangers of fire, severe weather, earthquakes, and other emergencies that might occur in your community.
2) Determine what you will need to do for each type of emergency. For example, most people head for a basement when there is a tornado warning, but most basements are not wheelchair-accessible. Determine in advance what your alternative shelter will be and how you will get there.
3) Post emergency telephone numbers near telephones and teach your children how and when to call for help.
4) Learn what to do in case of power outages and personal injuries. Know how to connect or start a back-up power supply for essential medical equipment.
5) If you or someone in your household uses a wheelchair, make more than one exit from your home wheelchair-accessible in case the primary exit is blocked in a disaster.
6) Teach those who may need to assist you in an emergency how to operate necessary equipment.
7) Arrange for a relative or neighbor to check on you in an emergency.
8) Learn how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at main valves or switches.
9) Plan and practice how to escape from your home in an emergency.
10) Consider getting a medical alert system that will allow you to call for help if you are immobilized in an emergency.
11) If you live in an apartment, ask the management to identify and mark accessible exits.
12) Learn your community's evacuation routes.
13) Listen to a battery-operated radio for emergency information.
14) Pick one out-of-state and one local friend or relative for family members to call if separated by disaster.
15) Pick two meeting places: 1) A place near your home in case of fire. 2) A place outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home after a disaster.
16) Keep family records in a watertight, fire-proof container