Be Prepared

  • Contact local authorities to register for emergency assistance, e.g., fire department, electric company, and local emergency management office
  • Consider purchasing a medical alert system that will allow you to call for help if you are immobilized in an emergency.  Because most alert systems require a phone line, consider owning a cell phone, in case regular landlines are disrupted.
  • Learn what to do in case of a power outage.  Know how to connect and start a back-up power supply for essential medical equipment.
  • If you use an electric wheelchair or scooter, keep a manual wheelchair for back-up.
  • Label and attach laminated instructions to your equipment.
  • Store back-up equipment such as mobility, medical, etc., at a neighbor’s home, school, or your workplace.
  • Teach those who may need to assist you how to operate necessary equipment.
  • If you are a person with low vision or blind, deaf, or hard-of-hearing, and if you are unable to use the TV or radio, plan for someone to convey emergency information to you.
  • If you use a personal care attendant, check to see if the employing agency has special provisions for emergency, such as providing services at another location if an evacuation is ordered.
  • If you live in an apartment, ask management to identify and mark accessible exits and areas designated for emergency shelter or safe rooms.  Ask about plans for alerting and evacuating people with disabilities.
  • Have a cell phone with an extra battery.  Keep numbers you may need to call nearby if the 9-1-1 emergency number is overloaded.
  • Learn about devices and other technology such as texts and radios to assist you in receiving emergency instructions and warnings from local officials.

Create a Personal Support Network

A personal support network can help you prepare for an emergency or disaster by helping you identify the resources you need and get them quickly.  Network members can also assist you after a disaster happens.

  • Organize a network that includes your home, school, workplace, volunteer site, and any other places where you spend a lot of time.
  • Members of your network can be roommates, relatives, neighbors, friends, and co-workers — they should be people who you trust and who can check to see if you need assistance.
  • Network members should know your capabilities and needs, and they should be able to provide help within minutes.
  • You should include a minimum of three people in your network for each location where you spend a lot time, because people work different shifts, take vacations, and may not always be available.

Complete a Personal Assessment

Decide what you will be able to do for yourself and what assistance you may need before, during and after a disaster.  This will be based on your environment after the disaster, your capabilities, and your limitations.  Make an electronic list or paper copy of your current capabilities and limitations.

Consider the following in your assessment:

  • Personal care (bathing, dressing, grooming)
  • Personal care equipment (shower chair, tub-transfer bench)
  • Water service
  • Adaptive feeding devices (special utensils)
  • Electricity-dependent equipment (dialysis, electrical lifts)
  • Building exits and evacuation plan
  • Mobility aids and ramp access
  • Transportation
  • Service animals, pet supplies, and licenses
  • Disaster debris