If you or someone you know has a disability or special needs, being prepared in an emergency is critical to ensure personal safety. Take the time to plan ahead, create a support network and be ready. Also, be sure to visit the Oklahoma State Department of Health's information on those with functional needs here.
Get started today by following these simple steps!
||Make a Plan
- Consider how a disaster might affect your individual needs.
- Plan to make it on your own, at least for at least three days. It’s possible that you will not have access to a medical facility or even a drugstore.
- Identify what kind of resources you use on a daily basis and what you might do if they are limited or not available, such as medicine or lifesaving equipment.
- Get an Emergency Supply Kit.
- If you must evacuate, take your pets with you, if possible. Service animals are usually allowed in public shelters. However, some public shelters may not allow family pets inside.
- Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets; consider loved ones or friends outside of your immediate area who would be willing to host you and your pets in an emergency.
|| Create a Support Network
- If you anticipate needing assistance during a disaster talk to family, friends and others who will be part of your personal support network.
- Write down and share each aspect of your emergency plan with everyone in your support network.
- Make sure everyone knows how you plan to evacuate your home or workplace and where you will go in case of a disaster.
- Make sure that someone in your local network has an extra key to your home and knows where you keep your emergency supplies.
- Contact your city or county government’s emergency management office. Many local offices work with people with disabilities so they can be located quickly in a sudden emergency.
- Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to help identify your disability.
- If you are dependent on dialysis or other life sustaining treatment, know the location and availability of more than one facility.
- Teach those who will help you during a disaster or emergency how to use any lifesaving equipment or administer medicine.
- Show others how to operate your wheelchair.
- Know the size and weight of your wheelchair, in addition to whether or not it is collapsible, in case it has to be transported.
- Practice your plan with those who have agreed to be part of your network.
|| Prepare for Financial Needs
Encourage electronic payments for federal benefit recipients. Keep in mind a disaster can disrupt mail service for days or even weeks.
For those who depend on the mail for their Social Security benefits, a difficult situation can become worse if they are evacuated or lose their mail service – as 85,000 check recipients learned after Hurricane Katrina. Switching to electronic payments is one simple, significant way people can protect themselves financially before disaster strikes. It also eliminates the risk of stolen checks.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury recommends two safer ways to get federal benefits:
- Direct deposit to a checking or savings account is the best option for people with bank accounts. Federal benefit recipients can sign up by calling (800) 333-1795 or at www.GoDirect.org.
- The Direct ExpressÆ prepaid debit card is designed as a safe and easy alternative to paper checks for people who don’t have a bank account. Sign up is easy – call toll-free at (877) 212-9991 or sign up online at www.USDirectExpress.com.
Signing up for direct deposit or the Direct Express card is a simple but important step that can help protect your family’s access to funds in case the unthinkable were to happen. If you or those close to you are still receiving Social Security or other federal benefits by check, please consider switching to one of these safer, easier options today.
|| Prepare for Medical Needs
Plan to have enough medicine and/or medical treatments available to make it on your own for at least a week, maybe longer.
- Make a list of prescription medicines including dosage, treatment and allergy information.
- Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about what else you need to prepare.
- If you undergo routine treatments administered by a clinic or hospital or if you receive regular services such as home health care, treatment or transportation, talk to your service provider about their emergency plans. Work with them to identify back-up service providers and incorporate them into your personal support network.
- Consider other personal needs such as eyeglasses, hearing aids and hearing aid batteries, wheelchair batteries, and oxygen.
|| Have Emergency Documents
in a safe place.
- Include copies of important documents in your emergency supply kits such as family records, medical records, wills, deeds, social security number, charge and bank accounts information and tax records.
- Have copies of your medical insurance and Medicare cards readily available.
- Keep a list of the style and serial number of medical devices or other life-sustaining devices. Include operating information and instructions
- Make sure that a friend or family member has copies of these documents.
- Include the names and contact information of your support network, as well as your medical providers. Note who should be notified if you are hurt.
- If you have a communication disability, make sure your emergency information notes the best way to communicate with you.
- Keep these documents in a water proof container for quick and easy access.
For information and tools related to emergency preparedness for persons with disabilities see the Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness for Individuals with Disabilities’ Resource Center.