AUSTIN, Texas -- Persons with disabilities, the elderly and others in the special needs population may require more detailed planning to prepare for a disaster such as a hurricane. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has the following suggestions:
- If you will be unable to evacuate yourself during a disaster emergency, pre-register with the state’s 2-1-1 information and referral system.
- Find out about special assistance that may be available in the local community. Contact the local emergency manager or chapter of the American Red Cross.
- Decide what you will be able to do for yourself based on certain disaster circumstances, available resources and your capabilities and limitations.
- Create a network of neighbors, relatives, friends, and coworkers to aid you in an emergency.
- Discuss your special needs with your employer.
- If you are mobility impaired and live or work in a high-rise building, ask management to mark accessible exits clearly and to make arrangements to help you leave the building.
- Keep specialized items ready, including extra batteries for hearing aids or electric wheelchairs, oxygen, catheters and medication. Include food and supplies, both for yourself and for service animals, and any other items you might need.
- If you use an electric wheelchair or scooter, consider a manual wheelchair for backup.
- Keep a list of the type and model numbers of the medical devices you require.
- Teach those who may assist you in an emergency how to operate necessary equipment.
- If hearing-impaired, make arrangements to receive emergency warnings.
- If you do not drive or own a vehicle, find out what your community’s plans are in the event of evacuation.
- It may be important to depend on more than one person at each location where you regularly spend time since people work different shifts, take vacations and are not always available.
For more information, order FEMA’s free pamphlet, Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and Other Special Needs (FEMA 476), toll-free at 1-800-480-2520. The booklet also is online at www.fema.gov. Additional pamphlets that may be ordered or viewed online are Preparing for Disaster (FEMA 475) and Food and Water in an Emergency (FEMA 477).
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.