All of the above information is important for older Kansans and Kansans with disabilities. However, you may need to look at your particular situation and evaluate your own special needs. You may need special medical supplies, extra batteries for a wheelchair or other medical equipment, extra cleaning supplies for personal needs or special food. Decide what you will be able to do for yourself and what assistance may be needed before, during and after a disaster. This will be based on the environment after the disaster, your capabilities and your limitations. Your plan should be based on your lowest anticipated level of functioning.
Think of Things Like:
- Your personal care needs
- Water needs
- Personal care equipment
- Electricity dependency
- Disaster debris
- Transportation needs
- Evacuation needs
- Communication needs
Only you can determine what these extra needs are and only you can prepare your specialized disaster kit and plan.
You may want to consider making two kits – one for sheltering in place and another, more mobile kit, for moving to a better location. Having special medical needs may necessitate a quicker response and recover.
Below are some special considerations:
Medications and Medical Supplies – Always wear your medical alert bracelet or pendant. Be sure you have what you need on hand and don’t let your supply get low. You should always have three days to a week supply on hand. You should also keep a detailed list of all your prescriptions as well as dosage or treatment information. Keep a list of the make, style, and serial numbers of medical devices such as pacemakers, pumps, monitors, and accommodation devices. You should also have a list of any allergies and your blood type. If you undergo routine treatments administered by a clinic or hospital, talk with your provider about their emergency plans. Work with them to identify back-up service providers in your area as well as a discussion on evacuation plans. Also consider and find options if you need back-up power in case of electrical outages. Be sure to alert your power company if you have medical equipment that requires electricity.
Emergency Documents – In a waterproof container, keep a description of your medical condition, copies of insurance information, emergency contact numbers and doctors contact information. If you have life-saving devices you rely on, include instructions for them. If you have a communication disability, make sure your emergency information includes the best way to communicate with you. These documents can be made more portable by storing them on a thumb drive or small notebook. Be sure to store them in a waterproof bag or container.
People with hearing Loss – If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you need to develop an emergency communication plan. Identify someone out of the area that can serve as your communicator if necessary. Utilize TTY or pager/text systems or have a hearing person make the initial contact. Having a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio with text alerts and visual/tactile alerts and program it to pick up weather alerts for your county. Keep it turned on. If you use special hearing aids or other equipment, make sure you have a supply of batteries in your emergency kit.
Personal Support Network – If you need special assistance during a disaster, make a list of family, friends and neighbors that can be a part of your plan and be available to help you. Neighbors and those that live close to you may be the first to reach you in an emergency. Consider how they can help you and who they may need to contact immediately. If you use a wheelchair, oxygen, or other medical equipment, show friends and neighbors how to use these devices so they can move you if necessary or help you evacuate. Practice your plan with those who have agreed to help you. You should also have these discussions with co-workers and employers in case a disaster happens at work. Do not depend on only one person. Include a minimum of three people in your network for each location where you regularly spend a lot of time. People take vacations, call in sick or are affected by the same disaster and may not be available to help you.
Fire Safety – Plan two ways out of every room in case of fire. Check for items like bookcases, handing pictures, or lights that could fall and block your routes. Secure or remove hazards that may keep you from safely leaving a building during an emergency.
Be Aware – Having a weather radio tuned for your area can help you monitor incoming storms and weather events. Listening to local radio or TV stations on a periodical basis, can alert you to possible hazards in your area. Also consider having family members and friends call you if they hear of potential disasters so that you can be more alert and monitor the situation for yourself.
You are your best advocate. Planning ahead and informing those around you of your specialized needs will be extremely beneficial in case of a disaster.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a brochure “Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and other Special Needs” that is available on their web site at www.fema.gov or you can call them at 800-480-2520. The American Red Cross also has publications for emergency preparedness at www.redcross.org.