In the last post, “Disaster Preparedness: Planning for medically dependent sheltering,” we talked about how to register for a medically dependent evacuation center. In this post, we’ll look at how to prepare if someone you know has a special need or needs.
There are good resources to help you prepare, such as the American Red Cross and the Sarasota County medical needs shelter page. And, for information on how to prepare for a disaster for people with access and functional needs, visit floridadisaster.org/getaplan and start your planning today and don’t wait for a storm to develop.
Floridadisaster.org recommends the following to help plan for a disaster.
- Create a network. Include neighbors, friends, relatives and even co-workers to help in an emergency, but make sure to discuss your needs in advance so that everyone knows what is needed and how to operate necessary equipment.
- Have a discussion with your employer to let them know your needs and your plan.
- If the person is mobility impaired and lives or works in a multi-story building, have an escape chair, and, again, communicate your plan with family, friends and your employer.
- If the person is in a multi-story apartment, ask the management to mark accessible exits clearly and to arrange to help you leave the premises. You might try a trial run to be sure the plan works.
- Keep a bag ready. Plan on packing extra wheelchair batteries, catheters, oxygen, medications, food their service animal, and any other necessary items that are important to their health.
- If medications require refrigeration, plan ahead on how you will handle these supplies.
- If oxygen is used, check with the supplier about emergency plans.
- Create a list of the type and model numbers of the medical devises the individual uses. Add to the list important phone numbers, including healthcare provider and out-of-town family members.
- Talk to the individual’s healthcare provider about the plans, and register in advance if the individual plans to shelter at a medical needs evacuation center.
The key point is to start creating a plan early, and communicate that plan with neighbors, friends, relatives, housing manager and healthcare providers. Creating a plan and taking care of all the details takes time, but those efforts just might save your life.