For People with Disabilities
Persons with disabilities, or those who may have mobility problems (such as elderly persons), should prepare as anyone else. In addition, they may want to consider some of the following steps:
- Create a network of relatives, friends, or co-workers to assist in an emergency. If you think you may need assistance in a disaster, discuss your disability with relatives, friends, or co-workers and ask for their help. For example, if you need help moving or require special arrangements to receive emergency messages, make a plan with friends. Make sure they know where you keep your disaster supplies. Give a key to a neighbor or friend who may be able to assist you in a disaster.
Maintain a list of important items and store it with your emergency supplies. Give a copy to another family member and a friend or neighbor. Important items might include:
- Special equipment and supplies, for example, hearing aid batteries.
- Current prescription names and dosages.
- Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of doctors and pharmacists.
- Detailed information about the specifications of your medication regime.
- Contact your local emergency management office now. Many local emergency management offices maintain registers of people with disabilities and their needs so they can be located and assisted quickly in a disaster.
- Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to identify your disability in case of an emergency. These may save your life if you are in need of medical attention and unable to communicate.
- Know the location and availability of more than one facility if you are dependent on a dialysis machine or other life-sustaining equipment or treatment. There may be several people requiring equipment, or facilities may have been affected by the disaster.
If you have a severe speech, language, or hearing disability:
- When you dial 911, tap the space bar to indicate a TDD call.
- Store a writing pad and pencils to communicate with others.
- Keep a flashlight handy to signal your whereabouts to other people and for illumination to aid in communication.
- Remind friends that you cannot completely hear warnings or emergency instructions. Ask them to be your source of emergency information as it comes over the radio. Another option is to use a NOAA Weather Radio with a tone-alert feature connected to lights. When a watch or warning is issued for your area, the light would alert you to potential danger.
- If you have a hearing ear dog, be aware that the dog may become confused or disoriented in an emergency.
- If you have a hearing ear dog, store extra food, water, and supplies for your dog. Trained hearing ear dogs will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with their owners. Check with local emergency management officials for more information.
If you are blind or visually impaired:
- Keep extra canes well placed around the home and office, even if you use a guide dog.
- If you have a guide dog, be aware that the dog may become confused or disoriented in an emergency.
- If you have a guide dog, store extra food, water, and supplies for your dog. Trained guide dogs will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with their owners. Check with local emergency management officials for more information.
- If you need a wheelchair, show friends how to operate your wheelchair so they can move you if necessary. Make sure friends know the size of your wheelchair in case it has to be transported, and where to get a battery if needed.
- Listen to the advice of local officials. People with disabilities have the same choices as other community residents about whether to evacuate their homes and where to go when an emergency threatens. Decide whether it is better to leave the area, stay with a friend, or go to a public shelter. Each of these decisions requires planning and preparation.