As I read that September is National Preparedness month, I began thinking about what parents of children with disabilities should be thinking about and planning for in the event of an emergency. Certainly, there are lots of different types of emergencies. One immediately considers natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding. But even smaller scale events can have the feel of an emergency if you aren’t prepared. For example, often our power goes out during a thunderstorm. If it’s dark outside, the house becomes pitch black in an instant. Candles aren’t a consideration, as they are too easily knocked over. So I went out and purchased some battery-operated lights that I keep in all of our rooms. This way, instead of panicking in the dark, I am prepared.
So I thought I would share some basic tips to help families prepare and plan for “the unpredictable.”
Make a Kit – Many people may think of having emergency kits on hand at home, but it’s also good to have one at work and on for your car while on the road. Stock your kit with essential items which may include medical supplies, assistive devices, food for your specific dietary needs, prescription medicines, diabetic supplies, hearing aid batteries, battery-operated phone chargers and other medical equipment and mobility devices you may need to maintain your health, safety and independence.
If your child is sensitive to loud sounds or highly stimulating environments, you may want to include handheld electronic devices loaded with movies and games (and spare chargers), headphones to decrease auditory distractions, and comfort snacks and toys.
Medication – Aside from emergency stores of medication that you may have in your kit, make sure you have at least 3-5 days of prescription medications on hand in the event you are unable to get a refill.
Make an Evacuation Plan – If you should need to leave your home, make a plan for how to safely exit as well as where you will go.
Fire Safety – This is something that Ryan and I have discussed multiple times. He knows the old saying: “Stop, Drop, and Roll!” by heart. He also knows two ways out of every room in case of fire.
Communication – Be sure your family knows your emergency plans, including a place to reach you if you’ve left your house. Maintain a list of your essential contact numbers, not just on cell phone. Take the time to sign up for emergency emails and text messages on your cell phone from your local government alert system.
You may be thinking, “Why bother? We don’t live in an area with hurricanes/tornadoes/blizzards.” But that’s all the more reason that you should be prepared. That way, you can feel calm and in control of the situation. If you’re calm, your child will be calm.
I encourage you to watch a great video about preparedness for families who have children with disabilities as well as review other resources here: https://www.ready.gov/individuals-access-functional-needs.