Expect the Unexpected

September is National Preparedness Month. Are YOU ready for an emergency?

There is no such thing as wasting time being prepared for emergencies. And when you have a disability, you have to take responsibility for yourself!

This year, during National Preparedness Month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Ad Council’s Ready public service advertising (PSA) campaign want to drive home one message: “You never know when the day before is the day before.”

Despite the devastation hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, floods and other emergencies and disasters have caused in recent years, reportedly only 60% of Americans say preparation for natural or man-made disasters is very important to them. It is important to encourage preparedness year round and provide the necessary tools that will allow people to be survivors, not victims. 

Everyone should have:

An Emergency Kit

An emergency kit includes the basics for survival: fresh water, food, clean air, and warmth. You should have enough supplies to survive for at least three days. Review the items recommended for a disaster supplies kit (below).

• An Emergency Plan

Make plans with your family and friends in case you're not together during an emergency. Discuss how you'll contact each other, where you'll meet, and what you'll do in different situations. Make sure your family members and support team know how to operate and repair your equipment, administer your medication and take care of other medical needs. By doing so, you have already taken the first step to emergency preparedness!

Emergency preparedness is always a good idea but can mean different things to different people. For individuals with spinal-cord injury or other disabilities who rely on others for help or assistance, this means additional preparations and preventative measures.

Supplies to Have on Hand

A bag or kit typically contains first-aid materials, food and water, and other items for comfort. No matter what you determine is necessary for you in an emergency or survival scenario, make sure it is accessible to you, whether it is on your wheelchair, in your car, at home or at work; decide what is best for you.

In addition to having your cell phone handy at all times and keeping your vehicle in good repair, here are other preparedness measures to consider:

• Include a spare inner tube, tire-repair kit and tire inflator, wrenches and/or combination tool

• Pack a first-aid kit: Band-aid adhesive strips, topical antibiotic, sunscreen, aspirin, wipes, lip balm, lotion, etc.

• Have extra medication, supply of antibiotics in case of an unexpected infection, extra catheters, antiseptic/antimicrobial cleansers, latex or surgical gloves, suppositories, waterproof pads in case of incontinence, nifedipine or nitro cream for autonomic dysreflexia (AD)

• Include an AD instruction card (if applicable), copies of your emergency contacts and vital documents (i.e., insurance cards, medical records, list of allergies and medication dosages)

• Consider purchasing a battery-charging unit. When fully charged, it can be used to charge a power chair (and anything else necessary) in the event of a power outage.

• Remember extra supplies for your service animal

Various evacuation chairs are designed specifically to enable users to exit buildings via a staircase in an emergency.

For more information, visit ready.gov or call 800-BE-READY (TTY 800-462-7585) to learn more about how to prepare for emergencies and receive free materials, including family emergency plan templates and sample business continuity plans.

The website offers "Prepare For Emergencies Now: Information For People With Disabilities," brochure with information specific to Americans with disabilities and other access and functional needs. A printer-friendly version is available in English and Spanish.



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