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Getting Ready to Go: Disaster-Preparedness and the Disabled

The Mayo Clinic has published a good list of safety tips for helping anyone disabled quickly prepare to escape their homes in the event of an emergency: a fire, a flood, a tornado, for example – and there are others.  The list is a timely reminder for us all to think ahead and plan for the unexpected.   And once again, planning for an emergency is not negative thinking or nerdy.  It’s smart and responsible.

Those of us with disabilities know only too well that preparing for emergencies and disasters is way more involved than it would be for the able-bodied.  But involved or complicated most certainly does not mean impossible.  And as clinical nurse specialist Lisa Beck said in a Mayo Clinic news release,

As we learned during Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters, persons with disabilities need to consider a number of different factors, such as identifying who is in their support system, special transportation needs and what supplies to include in their emergency-preparedness kits.

Here are some suggestions for getting ready to get ready and go:

  • Practice getting out of the house quickly, at least twice a year.  Every three or four months is probably better.
  • Discuss in detail any special needs with a local emergency-medical-services provider.  And be sure to check back in and update them should anything in your condition or circumstances change.
  • Plan exactly where to go for shelter and how to get there.  Write down the instructions and store them with your preparedness kit,  and practice the trip a few times.  Consider alternate routes in case roads are blocked for any reason.  Work with those individuals  who may need to provide you with any assistance in this contingency.
  • Put together an emergency-preparedness kit that can last 24 to 48 hours.  Include in it such things as medication lists, contact numbers, medications, catheter supplies and a first-aid kit.
  • Plan about shelter and supplies for your service animal.
If you know of a neighbor, colleague or fellow parishioner who is elderly, alone or disabled, be sure to take the time to find out about their emergency plans well before any disaster event and offer what assistance you can.  Remember, too, to check on anyone coping with the aftereffects of chemotherapy or surgery, or recovering from any other serious illness or mishap.  Once again, Hurricane Katrina taught us all how quickly and completely services and systems can fail in the face of the unanticipated.  We need to help each other out – no invitation required. 
Special thanks Mayo Clinic News Release, 2012.

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