Emergency Preparation: Are We Ready?

Candles and batteries: Not the only materials needed when preparing for a hurricane, especially if you are the parent of a child with autism.

The wind whipped through the trees, rain pelted the windows and I wondered how prepared our families are for an unusual weather occurrence. Living in Erie, PA, we seldom consider disaster preparedness. Snow storms dumping two feet of snow are not rare; however, as Hurricane Sandy advanced up the east coast, I began to consider what I should be doing to prepare.

Gathering candles, flashlights, water and supplies for an emergency are needed. Yet, immediately I think of medication. Ryan takes four medications daily so I want to know that we have sufficient dosages to last at least 3-5 days.

Personal identification is second. Our passports, social security and insurance cards, as well as essential paperwork are kept in a safe location for easy access. It’s such a relief to know that I can quickly locate them should we need to evacuate. 

Speaking of evacuation, I wondered, where would we go? The Red Cross has some shelters which accommodates individuals with special needs. If forced to go to a shelter, alert the supervisor that your child has a special need and discuss any accommodation that your child might require.

Keeping handy a list of emergency contacts is essential. Yes, this can be on your cell phone but if the cell phones and computers don’t work, a hard copy back up is essential. I keep a hard copy in my car, at home and work. This assures me that any number I need is always within reach. I suggest the list include relatives, friends, physicians and local hospitals.

For those of you with young children, Sesame Street offers wonderful information on their Let’s Get Ready, Planning Together for Emergencies page. There you will find links to the Let’s Get Ready Tip Sheet and the Family Emergency Plan.  These would also be applicable, with modifications, for older children.

Finally, I remembered the importance of staying calm in the face of a challenging situation. Children can read apprehension in a parent’s voice and will become anxious as well. Doing your best to stay calm will also have a calming effect on your child.  

As Hurricane Sandy treks through the east, I pray for those yet to face the storm and those dealing with the remnants.

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