What steps can you take to Prepare for a Natural Disaster?
Often, it’s not until an event like Hurricane Harvey has come and gone that people think about how to prepare for a natural disaster. Hurricane Harvey will not be the last violent storm or natural disaster to occur in Texas.
When a disaster strikes, you could be anywhere – at home, at work, or in transit, and the disabled and elderly face exceptional challenges in the face of a hurricane, tornado or fire.
Being informed, developing a strategy, and assembling a survival kit can help anyone prepare for an urgent, life-threatening situation. The Red Cross has given some guidelines on how to get started.
Be informed. Know the specific hazards that may threaten your community and find out how local authorities will warn you and provide information.
Ask about special emergency assistance programs for the disabled in your area. In some communities, the disabled can register with the fire or police department to enable them to provide help quickly. If you are vision or hearing impaired, enlist someone to convey important information to you if the television or radio cannot be used.
If you have been denied disability don’t give up! Contact a Disability lawyer at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and get the benefits you deserve.
Create a personal support network.
A personal support network includes at least three people in each location where you regularly spend time – work, school, home, the library, or social organization. People in this network can be friends, co-workers, family, caregivers or neighbors, but they must be people you trust and can rely on for help in an emergency situation.
Create a personal assessment.
Make a list of your personal needs and resources and determine what tasks you can perform for yourself and what tasks you will need assistance with before, during, and after a disaster. Consider all your personal capabilities and limitations as well as the challenges of your surrounding environment.
Some questions you might ask yourself:
- Do you need help getting dressed or bathing?
- Do you use any personal care equipment, such as a shower chair?
- How will you manage if the electricity or water is cut off? Do you have a generator or back-up power supply?
- Do you know where all exits are in each location where you spend time?
- If you need to evacuate, can you do so independently?
- How will you manage with debris in your home and surrounding property?
- Do you use a specially equipped vehicle for transportation and what will you do if it is rendered unavailable for you?
- Will you need help getting medicine or groceries?
- If you have a caregiver, what will you do if they cannot reach you?
- How will you communicate if a hearing aid isn’t working or you don’t have an interpreter?
- How will you care for your service animal or pet if you are unable to do so temporarily?
Make a plan.
Review all your information with your family, friends, caregiver and building manager. Be aware that different situations require different strategies and plan what you will do in case of a fire, tornado or flood.
- Ask a friend from another community to be an out of town contact and share this information with your network. Make a communications plan with contact information for all your support network and supply this information to your out of town contact.
- Get a medical alert system so that you can get help quickly and easily.
- Keep a manual wheelchair as a back-up to any motorized version and store any back-up equipment with a friend or family member.
- Make sure you and your family know escape routes in case you need to exit your home or workplace quickly.
- If your caretaker is from an agency, ask about special procedures in emergencies.
- Learn about devices and technology that can assist you in receiving emergency instructions.
- Know how and when to turn off water, gas and electricity at main switches or valves and share this information with your caregiver. Turn off utilities only if you are advised to by local authorities or you suspect damage or leaks. If gas is turned off, only a professional can turn it back on and that could take weeks.
In the event you are asked to evacuate:
- Go to family or friends first, if possible. Listen to the radio or television to find out which shelters are accessible to people with physical disabilities and determine which will be able to accommodate you and your caregiver.
- Take pets and service animals with you, but have a list of alternative caregivers such as family, friends and boarding facilities.
- Immediately inform members of your support group of your location.
- Carry extra batteries for your cell phone.
Individuals who are challenged by disabilities have specific needs that must be addressed during emergency situations requiring preparation before those emergencies occur.
By staying informed and creating a comprehensive plan, the disabled along with their caregivers can manage communications, supply needed equipment and provide for service animals and pets in any urgent situation. For more information, see http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you not able to work due to injury or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
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