Whether or not you have a disability, prepare a plan to keep you and your family safe
September is National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). One of Homeland Security’s goals is to educate the public about how to prepare for emergencies, including natural disasters, mass casualties, biological and chemical threats, radiation emergencies, and terrorist attacks.
A brochure with information specific to Americans with disabilities and other access and functional needs regarding emergency preparedness is at the FEMA-sponsored website ready.gov. "Prepare For Emergencies Now: Information For People With Disabilities" is a full-color, two-sided, quad-fold brochure. A printer friendly version is available in English and Spanish.
Another good information resource is “Disaster Tips for People with Mobility Challenges,” courtesy of the Puget Sound (Wash.) Offices of Emergency Management and posted on www.makeitthrough.org.
Basic First-aid Kit
Everyone, whether you have a disability or are able-bodied, should have these on hand and readily available:
• How-to manual for simple medical treatments (download free from emergencycareforyou.org or purchase from redcrossstore.org)
• List of emergency numbers, and medical consent and history forms for each family member
• Aspirin and other essential medications
• Bandages, elastic wraps, gauze rolls and pads, adhesive tape
• Cleansers (antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol-based hand sanitizer)
• Itch and irritation relievers
• Tweezers and other tools such as Latex-free gloves, sharp scissors, thermometer
About Those Windows…
Having a first-aid kit is great, but it may not help much if you can’t even get out of a building and are in harm’s way for whatever reason — perhaps a home invasion. When someone threatens you, it is also an emergency.
Sometimes normal exits may be blocked. While people who use mobility aids generally won’t exit through a window, the following information could be important for their family members.
Multiple national safety awareness campaigns lead homeowners nationwide to focus attention on their homes’ windows and doors.
“There’s a common denominator of window and door safety in each of these public awareness campaigns,” says Gary Pember, vice president of marketing for Simonton Windows. “Homeowners should familiarize themselves with the operating and safety features of their windows and patio doors to help make their homes safer. From practicing fire drills with children to using locking hardware on windows, consumers need to actively participate in safety and security practices in the home.”
In conjunction with the focus on these awareness campaigns, consider these tips from Simonton Windows (800-746-6686 / simonton.com) for people who may have to exit through a window during any type of emergency:
Home-Security Window Tips
Tip #1 – Homeowners should always lock their windows and patio doors when not in use. This does two things: It helps deter potential intruders, and it creates a weather-tight, energy-efficient seal from the elements.
Tip #2 – Check your window frames. If you find warping or rotting wood it can be easier for intruders to break into a home through your windows. Consider replacing them with vinyl-framed windows. Vinyl is a great insulator, plus it’s durable and easy to maintain.
Tip #3 – If you live in a neighborhood that is prone to crime, install impact-resistant windows with laminated glass … at least for the first floor of your home. In these units, two panes of glass are adhered to a durable plastic inner layer, much like a car windshield. If an intruder hits the window with a crowbar or other object, the glass will shatter, but broken pieces remain adhered to the inner layer, preventing glass fallout inside the home. The plastic interlayer is also puncture-resistant and will frustrate potential intruders.
If you’re constructing a new home, request impact-resistant laminated glass, such as SafePoint. Engineered to withstand flying debris, deter intruders and reduce unwanted outside noise in the home, the SafePoint glass package helps reduce unwanted sound in the home, increase protection against high winds and reportedly offers protection against forced entry.
Home-Safety Window Tips
Tip #4 – Practice fire safety drills regularly. Small children tend to “hide” from fire, so make sure they are familiar with planned escape routes and know how to move quickly out of the home. For homes with bedrooms on second floors or higher, make sure safety escape chain ladders are under the bed in every room. Practice operating the window with older children and show them how to use escape ladders.
“Have Two Ways Out!” was the theme of the nationwide 2012 Fire Prevention Week. Details and helpful tips are at http://www.nfpa.org/.
Tip #5 – If a door is not safe to exit through during a fire, go through an open window, using an escape ladder if necessary. Avoid breaking the glass in a window whenever possible, because it could cause serious injury.
Tip #6 – Never put nails or screws in a window frame to hold up holiday lights or decorations. Also, do not glue, staple or tape lights to a window frame. These activities can be potential fire hazards and can impede the successful operation of the window.
Tip #7 – Do not place lit candles on a windowsill, nor the sash.
Tip #8 – Never decorate windows with anything that could impede them from opening quickly, in case you need to use the window as an escape route during an emergency. For example, don’t wrap garlands or artificial pine branches around window hardware.
Tip #9: Don’t ever paint shut windows. Every window in the home must be operational in case of an emergency.
Tip #10 – Plant shrubs, grass and place “soft landscaping” items like bark and mulch directly underneath windows to help lessen the impact should someone fall out of the window, accidentally or during an emergency.
• Fire Prevention Week – Sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association – http://www.nfpa.org/categoryList.asp?categoryID=2017&URL=Safety%20Information/Fire%20Prevention%20Week%202010
• Crime Prevention Month – Sponsored by National Crime Prevention Council – http://www.ncpc.org/programs/crime-prevention-month
• National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week – Sponsored by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/lead/pubs/lppw2011.htm