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Emergency Preparedness Tools

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If a tornado warning went off while you were at home, would you be able to get away from all windows and doors quickly and safely?

If your home started flooding, would you know what to do and where to go?

If you lost power for a few days, would you have sufficient food, water and medicine to be safe?

We often feel that emergencies and natural disasters only happen to other people. But they can happen to us, too. People with disabilities can be especially vulnerable during emergencies, so it is critical to think about a plan ahead of time.  If your only plan is to rely on police, hospitals, or emergency responders, remember that everyone else is expecting the police and ambulances to respond to them as well.  Have a

People with disabilities can be especially vulnerable during emergencies, so it is critical to think about a plan ahead of time. If your only plan is to rely on police, hospitals or emergency responders, remember that everyone else is expecting the police and ambulances to respond to them as well. Have a backup plan.

Here are a few simple steps to help you get started.

  1. Select emergency contacts. Choose both an out-of-town emergency contact and a local emergency contact. Let your contacts know that they are part of your plan.
  2. Make a plan. If there were no electricity for three days, could you safely stay at home during an emergency? If not, consider making an evacuation plan. Will you go to a city shelter?  Will you stay with a relative or friend?  Will you have special accessibility or medical needs to consider?
  3. Gather important documents. Document all your medical needs, including physicians, pharmacies, medical suppliers and a list of medications. Make copies of insurance information, Social Security cards, ID and legal info (power of attorney, etc.).
  4. Make a plan for your pet. Will you take them with you or leave them at home with plenty of food and water? The federal government has several downloadable emergency plans, including a specific one for pets.
  5. Involve your children. What if they are at school or you are not at home when an emergency happens? Do they know what to do? Check out ready.gov/kids for fun games and activities for teaching kids about emergency preparedness.
  6. Register for assistance with local organizations. Call your local fire department and utility companies to be registered as a “high priority” in case of emergency or power outage. Register for your community’s Functional Needs Registry, a private list managed by government officials of people who need to be contacted for assistance in case of a citywide or statewide emergency.In St. Louis, visit stlcityfunctionalneeds.org or call 314-657-1676; in St. Louis County, visit stlouisco.com/registry or call 314-615-4426.
  7. Make an emergency supply kit. There are several websites to help you know what to include. Check out Missouri’s Ready in 3 initative for information on emergency kits, and planning for pets and people who use in-home services, oxygen or dialysis. The American Red Cross website also has valuable information about severe weather preparedness.
  8. Stay alert. Know how to monitor emergencies. How will you know that an emergency is happening?

For detailed guides on disaster preparedness, check out the Red Cross booklet for people with disabilities or for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

If you want one-on-one help making an emergency plan, contact Paraquad today to see if you qualify for independent living skills training.

Savannah Sisk is an Independent Living Specialist at Paraquad. She can be reached at ssisk@paraquad.org.

Photo credit: Wolfram Burner

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