Empowering People with Disabilities

How might a disaster affect you? Could you make it on your own for at least three days? After a disaster, you may not have access to a medical facility or even a drugstore, so it’s crucial to plan for the resources you use regularly, and what you would do if those resources are limited or not available. Additional planning steps should include:

  • Create a support network. Keep a contact list in a watertight container in your emergency kit.
  • Be ready to explain to first responders that you need to evacuate and choose to go to a shelter with your family, service animal, caregiver, personal assistant, and your assistive technology devices and supplies.
  • Plan ahead for accessible transportation that you may need for evacuation or getting to a medical clinic. Work with local services, public transportation or paratransit to identify your local or private accessible transportation options.
  • Inform your support network where you keep your emergency supplies; you may want to consider giving one member a key to your house or apartment.
  • Contact your city or county government’s emergency management agency or office. Many local offices keep lists of people with disabilities so they can be helped quickly in a sudden emergency.
  • If you are dependent on dialysis or other life-sustaining treatment, know the location and availability of more than one facility.
  • If you use medical equipment in your home that requires electricity, talk to your doctor or health care provider about how you can prepare for its use during a power outage.
  • Wear medical alert tags or bracelets.
  • If you have a communication disability, make sure your emergency information notes the best way to communicate with you.
  • If you use an augmentative communications device or other assistive technologies, plan how you will evacuate with the devices or how you will replace equipment if lost or destroyed. Keep model information and note where the equipment came from (Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance, etc.)
  • If you use assistive technology devices, such as white canes, CCTV, text-to-speech software, keep information about model numbers and where you purchased the equipment, etc.
  • Plan how you will communicate with others if your equipment is not working, including laminated cards with phrases, pictures or pictograms.
  • Keep Braille/text communication cards, if used, for 2-way communication.
  • Plan for children with disabilities and people, who may have difficulty in unfamiliar or chaotic environments.