Anyone with a disability, or who lives with, works with or assists a person with a disability or special need should create a disaster plan. For some individuals, being notified of or responding to a disaster may be more difficult because of a disability. Disabilities may be physical, mental, emotional, ethnic, socio-economic, cultural, or language based. Addressing special needs ahead of time will reduce the physical and emotional trauma caused by the emergency.
1. Be Informed of what might happen
Learn about community hazards:
In Jackson County, our risks include wildfire, flood, earthquake, severe weather, transportation incident, drought, hazardous materials incident, infectious disease outbreak/Public Health emergency and dam failure.
Think about how these hazards may impact you. How would you cope with a long term power outage? Would smoky air from a forest fire cause you difficulty breathing?
Learn about disaster planning:
Find out what planning activities have taken place in your community. In addition to county response plans, many families, businesses and churches have disaster plans. Ask your friends, family, coworkers, or contact your local emergency manager or Red Cross office.
Learn about warning systems:
How will you be warned of an impending disaster? How will you get information during and after a disaster? Learn about the NOAA weather radio system and what different weather words such as ‘watch’ and ‘warning’ mean at www.noaa.gov.
The Disaster Registry:
The Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG) maintains a database of people that need assistance evacuating their homes or sheltering in place, or who need special notification about an emergency due to varying abilities. The Disaster Registry provides the names and locations of people who need special assistance to fire, police, health and rescue workers to be used during the emergency. This information is kept secured when not needed for disaster planning or response. Contact your local Public Health Department or the Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG) at (541) 664-6674 or www.rvcog.org for more information.
2. Make a Plan For what you will do in an emergency
Create a personal support network:
A personal support network can be made up of friends, relatives, neighbors, coworkers, teachers or other people you trust. Your personal support network can help you plan for what you will need during a disaster, and can assist you during a disaster.
Members of your personal support network should know your capabilities and needs, and be able to offer assistance within a short time. You should have a minimum of three people in your network for each place you regularly spend time during the week.
Complete a personal assessment:
Decide what you will be able to do yourself, and what you will need assistance with before, during and after a disaster. This will be based on the environment during and after a disaster, your capabilities and your limitations. Make a list of your personal needs and your resources for meeting those needs in a disaster environment. Think about topics such as personal care, water service, medications, personal care equipment, adaptive feeding devices, electricity-dependent devices, transportation, errands, building evacuation and service animals or pets. Share your personal assessment with your personal support network.
Make a family disaster plan:
Whether you live by yourself, or with family members, friends or pets it is very important to have a disaster plan. This plan should include information about how you will communicate with friends, family and coworkers during and after a disaster, how you will decide to stay or evacuate, and other details relevant to your personal situation and needs.
Plan for your pets
Plan to take your pets with you when you evacuate if at all possible. Red Cross shelters usually don’t let you bring your pets except service animals. Make a list of friends, family, coworkers and pet-friendly hotels that you could stay at in an emergency. Make a list of facilities that could board your pet in case you are not able to stay somewhere with your pet. Be sure to prepare a go kit for your pet to use if you have to evacuate!
Prepare for different hazards
Different hazards may require you to protect yourself in different ways. For instance, during a wildfire you may need to evacuate, or stay indoors due to smoke, but during a flood you would want to get to higher ground. Think about the hazards that may impact your community and the ways that you would protect yourself. Be sure to include in the information in your family disaster plan.
3. Get a Kit Of Emergency Supplies
Think about how an emergency might affect your individual needs. Plan to make it on your own for at least three days, preferably seven or more. It is possible that you may not have access to a grocery store, drugstore or medical facility. What if help you count on every day, such as a caregiver or oxygen supplier can’t reach you? Think about what kinds of resources you use on a daily basis, and what you might do if those resources were limited or not available.
Think about the things that you, your pets, service animals, or anyone else you are responsible for use on a daily basis. Food and water are the most important items, followed by tools, clothing and other supplies that you use every day or might need during a disaster. You may want to make a kit for your home, and a go-kit to take to a shelter or other location if you are asked to evacuate.
You probably have some supplies on hand right now that you could use to start making a kit. Each time you make a trip to the store to do your regular shopping, pick up a few things for your kit as well.
4. Maintain Your Plan & Kit
Read your disaster plan with your family and personal support network. Quiz each other to be sure that everyone remembers what the plan says to do.
Conduct drills as often as possible. Pick a hazard each month to test, such as a house fire evacuation drill. Be sure everyone knows how to get out of the house safely and where to meet. Discuss your performance of the drill and update your plan as needed.
Maintain the equipment in your house such as smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for testing and replacement and be sure to follow them closely.
Rotate supplies in your emergency kit, especially food and water. Be sure to check medications, insurance policy numbers and other items that may have expired or need to be updated.
Remember to have fun! Preparing and having a plan makes us feel empowered, and less vulnerable to disasters. Training and testing can be positive experiences that help alleviate anxiety over the unknown.
All Persons With Special Needs
- Ask your care provider or social service agency about special assistance that may be available to you in an emergency.
- Register in the Disaster Registry, so that responders are aware of your needs
- If you currently use a personal care attendant from an agency, check with the agency to see if they have special provisions for emergencies.
- If you hire your own personal care attendant, discuss your emergency plan with her/him and encourage them to have their own emergency plan.
- Determine what you will do in each type of emergency.
- Learn what to do in case of power outages. Know how to connect or start a back-up power supply for essential medical equipment. Write it down in clear directions, and attach it to the power supply.
- Arrange for a relative or neighbor to check on you in an emergency.
- Keep your medications and aids in a consistent place. Keep extra aids in a second place, if possible.
- Keep extra supplies of the special items you need, including extra batteries for these items. Be sure to rotate out any items that expire.
- Service animals may become confused or frightened. Keep them confined or securely leashed.
Persons with Mobility Challenges
- Store emergency supplies in a pack or backpack attached to your walker, wheelchair or scooter.
- Keep a pair of heavy gloves in your supply kit to use while wheeling over glass or debris.
- If your chair does not have puncture-proof tires, keep a patch kit or can of sealant and air to repair tires.
- If you cannot use stairs, discuss lifting and carrying techniques that work for you. Write out brief instructions, and keep in your pack.
Persons with Visual Challenges
- If you have some vision, place security lights in each room to light paths of travel. These lights plug in, but have a battery backup in case of power failure.
- If helpful, mark emergency supplies with large print, fluorescent tape, or Braille.
- Store high-powered flashlights with wide beams and extra batteries.
Persons with Hearing Challenges
- Store hearing aids in a strategic and consistent place, so they can be located quickly.
- Have paper and pencil in your kit to use if you do not have your hearing aids.
- Install smoke alarms with both a visual and audible alarm. At least one should be battery operated.
- If possible, obtain a battery operated TV with a decoder chip for access to signed or captioned emergency reports.
Persons with Medical Needs
- Always have at least a ten (10) day supply of all of your medications and medical supplies (bandages, ostomy bags, syringes, tubing, solutions, etc).
- If you use oxygen, be sure to have at least a three (3) day supply.
- Store your medications in one location, in their original container.
- Keep lists of all of your medications: name of medication, dose, frequency, and prescribing doctor in your wallet.
- For all medical equipment that requires power, get information regarding back-up power such as a battery or generator.
- Know if your IV infusion pump has a battery back-up and how long it would last in an emergency.
- Ask your home care provider about manual infusion techniques.
Additional information and planning booklets are available from the following sources: