Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Getting ready for a disaster when you’re living with a disability

Here at the Get Ready Blog, we spend a lot of time talking about emergency preparedness and providing general tips to help everyone get ready in case of a disaster. However, being prepared often requires extra planning if you are living with a disability. To learn more, we recently interviewed Danielle Bailey, MPH, a research assistant for the Oregon Office on Disability and Health for the latest episode of our Get Ready Report podcast series.

Bailey says that everyone should take basic steps to get ready for an emergency: identifying the disasters that could happen in your area, creating evacuation and communication plans and putting together an emergency kit. But achieving this level of preparedness, says Bailey, “varies greatly for a person with a disability because of the level of attention and planning required to address their specific needs.”

If you are living with a disability, Bailey says the best practice is to sit down with someone who knows you well — a spouse, friend, family member or caregiver — and decide together “what activities of living you are able to do for yourself and what help you may need before, during and after an emergency.”

Bailey also recommends being very specific when putting together emergency kits. For example, “individuals who can only drink out of a straw, include straws in your bag, or if you use a manual wheelchair you may want to think about having some type of hand protection, such as leather gloves.”
“Think about backup batteries for hearing aids, extra canes and, of course, you need to have a plan around your medication and ensure you have copies of current prescriptions,” Bailey says.

For a general checklist about preparing an emergency stockpile, read the Get Ready checklist (PDF) It’s a good starting place for everyone!

For more great information about getting ready for a disaster when you’re living with a disability, listen to the full episode of our newest Get Ready Report. You can also read the transcript of our interview with Bailey.

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