Disasbilities, Access, Functional Needs

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If you use a power wheelchair, if possible, have a lightweight manual chair available as a backup. Know the size and weight of your wheelchair in addition to whether or not it is collapsible, in case it has to be transported.
  • Keep an extra mobility device such as a cane or walker, if you use one.
  • If you use a seat cushion to protect your skin or maintain your balance, and you must evacuate without your wheelchair, take your cushion with you.
  • Plan for children with disabilities and people, who may have difficulty in unfamiliar or chaotic environments.
    • This may include handheld electronic devices loaded with movies and games (and spare chargers), sheets and twine or a small pop up tent to decrease visual stimulation in a busy room or to provide instant privacy, headphones to decrease auditory distractions, and comfort snacks and toys that meet needs for stimulation.