The National Weather Service has announced several flood warnings throughout the state. It is important that everyone who could be impacted, including people with disabilities, be prepared for this event.
Put an evacuation plan in place that starts with communicating with those you may need to rely on for assistance. You must COMMUNICATE with others, such as family members, neighbors and personal care attendants. Develop a network of individuals that you can rely on for assistance. Meet with these individuals and create a preparedness plan, discuss what may happen in a flood emergency. Remember, when creating an emergency preparedness plan, proximity is very important, so rely most on those closest to you. This plan goes beyond home: It applies to locations where you spend significant time, such as schools, clubs, community centers, work and volunteer settings.
Communicate your issues and train your NETWORK OF PEOPLE in how best to assist you in an emergency.
How to notify you of an emergency if you are deaf or hard-of-hearing;
How to use your evacuation equipment if you have a mobility disability;
How to guide you in an emergency setting if you are blind or low vision; or
How to do a blood pressure check, assist with an injection, or assist with a transfer, etc.
Developing a network is a two-way street, so as you identify what others can do for you, be sure to identify what you can do for others. Many individuals with disabilities have organizational and communication skills or other skills and abilities that can be utilized in a plan.
Once you have the emergency plan and network in place, this forms the basis of your plan. Be sure to PRACTICE, PRACTICE AND PRACTICE!!!
Arrange for a relative, friend or neighbor to check on you in an emergency.
Review possible transportation options, such as a personal vehicle, friend or contact your local paratransit system before the emergency occurs.
Contact your providers to find out if they have a plan to provide services during a flood emergency, such as personal care assistance or meals on wheels, etc. Make sure that you have adequate PCA support.
Post EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBERS where you can find them easily, near the telephone or programmed into your cell phone. Make extra copies for each emergency kit.
TEACH CHILDREN and others in the household what to do, who to call and when.
Locate your EMERGENCY KIT, take the battery or crank-operated RADIO and listen for emergency information.
If you or someone in your household has a mobility disability, make sure you have a second accessible exit, in case the primary exit is blocked. At a minimum, have some ideas on how you would evacuate in this case.
Consider getting a medical alert system that will allow you to call for help if you are immobilized in an emergency.
Keep family records, medical records and other important documents in watertight, fireproof containers. Identify adaptive equipment that may be needed for successful notification and/or evacuation from the premises. If moving to a shelter or accessible hotel room, try to bring the adaptive equipment with you that you need.
Consider getting a medical ID bracelet or medical dog tags that state your disability.
Make sure your service animal, if you have one, is properly identified as such with a harness, otherwise first responders may think it's a pet.
Learn how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at main valves or switches.
Know how to connect or start a back-up power supply if needed.
Pick one out-of-state and one local friend or relative for family members to call if separated by disaster.
If you live in an apartment or condominium, ask the caretaker or manager to identify and mark accessible exits.
Learn your community's evacuation plan:
Are the shelters accessible?
How will you secure a sign language interpreter?
Will guides or assistants be available?
GO PLAN Emergency Kit
Make sure to put these items in a backpack or duffel bag, perhaps with wheels, that you can quickly grab and take with you in case you need to evacuate.
A first aid kit, extra glasses or contact lenses. If you take medication or use medical
supplies, make sure you have enough for at least a week
Some drinking water and non-perishable, high protein foods such as nuts and energy bars.
Some food and water for your service animal, if you have one.
A manual (non-electric) can opener.
A battery or crank-operated radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries for them.
A sturdy whistle.
Candles and matches or lighter
A change of clothing, rain gear, and sturdy shoes.
Personal care products - soap, toiletries, waterless hand cleaner, tissues and toilet paper.
If you have a baby, include extra diapers and other infant care items.
Special items for people with special health needs.
Critical miscellaneous items - notebook & pen, money & credit cards, extra car keys, medical and insurance information, and copies of other important documents (including a list of the style and serial numbers of medical devices such as pacemaker.)
A list of names and phone numbers: Doctor(s), other medical providers, and the relative or friend who should be notified if you are injured.
As you prepare your emergency kit
Store back-up equipment, such as a manual wheelchair, at a neighbor's home, school or workplace. Also, if you have a mobility disability and regularly spend time in levels higher than the ground floor of buildings, be sure to know where the stair-evacuation equipment is stored.
For additional information contact your local emergency manager, public health office, or center for independent living.
Additional information is also available from the Minnesota Department of Health www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/emergency/natural/floods/index.html.