Anyone can experience an access or functional need at any time. A broken leg requiring crutches can create a temporary disability that changes your response to an emergency, for example. The needs may be physical, mental, emotional, socioeconomic, cultural or language based. Persons with access and functional needs and anyone assisting, living with or working with them should create a disaster plan. Addressing these potential challenges ahead of time will reduce the physical and emotional stresses during an emergency.
Persons with Mobility Challenges
- Store emergency supplies in a pack or backpack attached to a walker, wheelchair or scooter.
- Keep a pair of heavy gloves in your supply kit to use while wheeling over glass or debris.
- If your chair does not have puncture-proof tires, keep a patch kit or can of sealant and air to repair tires.
- If you cannot use stairs, discuss lifting and carrying techniques that work for you. Write out brief instructions and keep them in your pack.
- If you use an electric wheelchair, keep a manual chair on hand for emergencies.
Persons with Hearing Challenges
- Store hearing aids in a strategic and consistent place, to locate quickly.
- Have paper and pens in your kit to use if you lose your hearing aids.
- Install smoke alarms with both a visual and audible alarm. At least one should be batteryoperated.
- If needed, ensure your TV has a decoder chip for access to signed or captioned emergency reports, or has closed captioning on for alerts. All TV's manufactured since 1993 have built in decoders.
Persons with Medical Needs
- Where possible, aim for a 14-day supply of all of your medications and medical supplies (bandages, ostomy bags, syringes, tubing, solutions, etc.).
- If you use insulin or other refrigerated medication, ask your providers for tips on keeping items cool during longer power outages and options for medications that are more shelf stable for use during emergencies.
- If you use oxygen, remember you may not be able to acquire more for several days. Be sure to have several days worth on hand.
- Store your medications in one location, in their original containers with labels.
- Note important allergies and keep lists of all of your medications, including the name of medication, dose, frequency and prescribing doctor on your emergency information list.
- For all medical equipment that requires power, get information regarding back-up power, such as a battery or generator. If using a generator, seek professional help to make sure it is properly installed, vented and can be safely operated by you or an assistant.
- Know if your IV infusion pump has a battery back-up and how long it would last in an emergency.
- Ask your home care provider about manual infusion techniques.
- Have written instructions for all equipment attached to the device(s).
All Persons With Access and Functional Needs
- Make an emergency information list and keep it with you. This list should have medical and health insurance and emergency contact information with names and numbers of contacts in the area and out of area. If you have a communication disability, make sure you list notes the best way to communicate with you.
- If you currently use a personal care attendant from an agency, check with the agency to see if they have special provisions for emergencies.
- If you hire your own personal care attendant, discuss your emergency plan with them and encourage them to have their own emergency plan.
- Find the location of utility shutoff valves and switches where you live; learn how and when to turn them off.
- Practice evacuation drills. Evacuate to a designated location to learn what assistance you might require and what you can do independently.
- Learn what to do in case of power outages. Know how to connect or start a back- up power supply for essential medical devices. Write down clear directions and attach it to the power supply.
- If you don't drive, talk with others about how you might leave if authorities require an evacuation and what local transportation is available that can meet your transport needs.
- Ask your provider about getting extra oxygen tanks and spare batteries to keep on hand; they may be covered by your insurance plan or provided by your supplier.
- Arrange for a relative or neighbor to check on you after an emergency event.
- Keep supplies in a consistent place that is easy for you to find and remember. Aim for at least two weeks of stored food and water. Learn to purify water for drinking and how to meet additional hygiene needs.
- Service animals may become confused or frightened. Keep them confined or securely leashed.
- Sign up for the Disaster Registry by visiting www.rvcog.org.
Persons with Visual Challenges
- If you are visually impaired, place security lights in each room to light paths of travel. These lights plug in but have a battery backup in case of power failure. Small solar lights may be another option.
- If helpful, mark emergency supplies with large print, fluorescent tape or braille. Add a magnifying lens if that will be a helpful aid outside the home.
- Store high-powered flashlights with wide beams and extra batteries.
- Hang on to older prescription glasses or spare contacts for backup use.