For the millions of Americans who have physical, medical, sensory or cognitive disabilities, emergencies such as fires, floods and acts of terrorism present a real challenge. One of the things learned from the response to Hurricane Katrina was that people with disabilities were disproportionately affected by the storm and its aftermath.
It is important that people with disabilities and their family members make plans to protect themselves in the event of disasters. In addition, first responders need to know how to work with people with disabilities to evacuate them safely and quickly.
Where will you, your family, your friends or personal care attendants be when an emergency or disaster strikes?
You, and those you care about, could be anywhere – at home, work, school or in transit. How will you find each other? Will you know your loved ones will be safe?
Emergencies and disasters can strike quickly and without warning and can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services – water, gas, electricity or telephones – were cut off?
Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away.
You are in the best position to plan for your own safety as you are best able to know your functional abilities and possible needs during and after an emergency or disaster situation. You can cope with disaster by preparing in advance with your family and care attendants. You will need to create a personal support network and complete a personal assessment.
Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility.
Create a personal support network