With our busy lives, crazy schedules and the “to do” list is seemingly never ending; most of us do not stop and think about being prepared for a disaster. I am not talking about a small disaster, like running out of trash bags, or the dishwasher quitting. I mean, believe me, that IS a disaster at my house. I am talking real life disaster. Tornadoes, hurricanes, terrorist attacks. It happens every day all around us, but many of us are not even remotely prepared. It is a really heavy hearted topic to think about, when you get down to it. But there are some GREAT resources out there to help you get started and work your way through being disaster ready.
Everyone is different. Different families have different needs and likely different definitions of what being prepared looks like. For example, in our family it is simply us and our two teenagers. No one needs anything especially different. Just your normal life stuff. However, some friends of ours have a little one in a wheel chair. So they would need extra help and extra preparation to be disaster ready. They would need to know where extra help for people with disabilities might be, and how to access them in a disaster situation. By evaluating your own individual needs and making an emergency plan that ﬁts those needs, you and your loved ones can be better prepared.
The first step to making a plan for you and your family is to think about what you would really need in a disaster or emergency situation. Here are some things to consider:
- Collect information – Create a paper copy of the contact information including phone, email, and social media info for your family, friends, caregivers, neighbors and other important people/offices, such as medical facilities, doctors, schools, workplace contacts or service providers.
- Share your emergency plans – with the trusted people in your support network – tell them what your plans are.
- Practice your plan with your support network – Discuss your needs and/or the needs of a family member; learn about their assistance or services. Advocate including people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs into emergency planning in your community.
- Check your Emergency Supply Kit – Stock a basic disaster supply kit. Plan for sheltering at home, at work and on the road.
- Make a Medical Plan: Including Medications and Medical Supplies – Even if you do not use a computer, put important information onto a flash drive or mobile device for easy transport in the event of an evacuation. Have your medical professionals update it every time they make changes in your treatment or care.
- Plan for Possible Evacuation – During an emergency, be ready to explain to first responders and emergency officials that you need to evacuate and choose to go to a shelter with your family, service animal, caregiver, personal assistant, and your assistive technology devices and supplies.
- Make a Power Outage Plan – Plan alternative ways to charge your mobile devices, and communication and assistive technology devices before disaster strikes
- Behavior Support – Plan for children with disabilities and people, who may have difficulty in unfamiliar or chaotic environments.
For a full list of help with making your plan, what you might need, and ideas to get you started, visit the Ready.Gov Make A Plan page. They have a huge list of resources, many of them are things you would probably never think you might need in a disaster situation.
Parents can even get the kids in on the disaster planning fun! Disasters affect everyone. So it takes everyone – youth, parents and community members – to help prepare. Ready.Gov has some great resources to help get your kids involved!
Now you are ready! Grab up the family and get started on your emergency and disaster plan! To get more information on how to make a family emergency communication plan, build a disaster supply kit or to learn how to get involved in community preparedness, please visit Ready.gov/MyPlan.