Preparing for Emergencies – Information for People with Disabilities. The Virginia Department of Rehabilitation Services and the Virginia Department on Aging want all citizens, especially people with disabilities and seniors, to be prepared for Hurricane Irene.
Disaster can strike anywhere, anytime. Do you know what to do?
Knowing what to do during an emergency is an important part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count.
Preparing for an emergency doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Break it down into simple steps.
Evaluate your surroundings and situation.
· Check for hazards in the home. Ordinary items in the home can cause injury or damage. Anything that can move, fall, break or cause fire is a home hazard and could block an evacuation path.
· Find out about special assistance that may be available in your community. Register with your electrical utility, the office of emergency services or the local fire department for assistance so needed help can be provided. For example, customers of Dominion Virginia Power who require electrically-powered life support equipment can submit the appropriate request form to be added to the utility’s medical conditions list prior to an emergency.
Then, start preparing in advance of an emergency.
Step 1: Make a plan.
Step 2. Get a Kit
Step 3. Stay Informed
What if you must evacuate during an emergency?
· Plan two evacuation routes in case roads are closed or blocked.
· Create a network of neighbors, relatives, friends, and coworkers to aid you. Discuss your needs and make sure everyone knows how to operate necessary equipment.
· If you need assistance and your network is not available, find helpers and tell them your needs. Give them instructions on how they can help you evacuate.
· Advocate for yourself. Practice how to quickly explain the best way to guide or move you and your adaptive equipment, safely and rapidly. Be ready to give brief, clear, and specific instructions and directions to rescue personnel, either orally or in writing, such as:
- “Please take my . . .
- Oxygen tank.
- Communication device from under the bed.”
- “I am blind/visually impaired. Please let me grasp your arm firmly.”
- “I am deaf. Please write things down for me.”
- If you are mobility impaired and live or work in a high-rise building, have an escape chair.
- If you live in an apartment building, ask the management to mark accessible exits clearly and to make arrangements to help you leave the building.
- Keep specialized items ready, including extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, catheters, medication, prescriptions, food for service animals, and any other items you might need.
- Be sure to make provisions for medications that require refrigeration.
- Keep a list of the type and model numbers of the medical devices you require.
- Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to identify your disability.
- 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.
- When needed, ask for an accommodation from disaster response personnel.For example, let a responder or relief worker know if you cannot wait in lines for long periods for items like water, food and disaster relief assistance.
If you or someone close to you has a disability and other access and functional needs, you may have to take additional steps in an emergency. It is important to recognize special needs and make advance preparation before an emergency occurs. To learn more, download the Emergency Preparation PDF Fileor the Emergency Preparation Text-Only Word File.
Virginia Department of Rehabilitation
Virginia Department on Aging
8004 Franklin Farms Drive
Richmond, VA 23229
Phone: 540-332-7000 or 800-345-9972
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