6 Ways People with Disabilities can Prepare for Evacuations

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This Atlantic hurricane season, National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration predicts there will be 14 to 21 named storms, with six to 10 potentially becoming hurricanes. In some cases, you and your family members may live in an affected area and need to evacuate your home.

During an evacuation, it’s important to consider each family member’s needs. Disabilities can impact a person in a variety of ways, both visible and invisible. Having a plan BEFORE a disaster happens can eliminate potential stress or barriers for you or your family member with a disability.

Follow these tips to prepare your family in case of disaster.

1. Stay Informed

It’s important to know which disasters can impact your area and when evacuation is possible. Take steps to stay informed, such as downloading the FEMA App. The FEMA App is available in English and Spanish, is screen reader compatible on iOS (11.0 and later) and Android (5.0) devices, and follows federal accessibility requirements. Also make sure you pay attention to mobile alerts.

2. Include others in your plan

Create a support network of people who can help you in a disaster, should you need it. You can:

  • Inform your support network where you keep your emergency supplies.
  • Sign up to a voluntary registry for people with disabilities to self-identify to receive targeted assistance during emergencies and disasters.
  • Know the location and availability of more than one shelter and/or medical facility that can help you.

3. Consider transportation

Plan ahead for accessible transportation that you may need for evacuation or getting around before, during or after a disaster.

4. Plan for all of your medical needs

This can include:

  • Knowing how to power medical equipment in your home that requires electricity, in case of a power outage. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about what you may be able to do to keep it running during a power outage. You can also ask your power provider to put you on a list for priority power restoration.
  • Organizing and protecting your prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and vitamins. You should also keep a list of your medications and dosages in your emergency kit.
  • Wearing medical alert tags or bracelets. Also add pertinent medical information to your electronic devices.
  • Carrying printed cards or storing information on your devices to inform first responders and others how to communicate with you if you have a communication disability.
  • If you use assistive technologies, plan how you will evacuate with them or determine how you will replace equipment if lost or destroyed.
  • Knowing how to locate and access your electronic health records from a variety of sources by using the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' online tool.

5. Plan for new environments

Your household may include children and adults who have difficulty in unfamiliar or chaotic environments. If you have a pets or service or support animals, you’ll also need to have additional food, water and supplies for them.

6. Build an Emergency Kit

Your emergency kit should include unique items to meet your needs or a family member’s individual needs in various emergencies. Keep the kits stored in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag in an easily accessible location.

To learn more preparedness tips for people with disabilities, visit Ready.gov. To learn more about evacuations, visit the evacuation page on Ready.gov.

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