Individuals with Functional Needs – How to Prepare for Emergency
For individuals with functional needs, planning in advance for an emergency is crucial to their well-being. Each person's needs are different and this requires an individualized plan that can anticipate and meet needs during an emergency. The individual or a caregiver is in a unique situation to plan for an emergency, since they know the person's functional abilities best and can best anticipate any needs that may arise.
Here are some steps that can help you to plan for any emergency:
- Create a Support Network. Be sure to include at least 3 people in your network that are familiar with your abilities. These should be people that you trust and are willing to check to see if you need assistance if an emergency should arise. It is also important to have a list of out-of-state emergency contacts who need to be notified that you are safe and well.
- Complete a Personal Assessment. It is essential to know what your needs are or may be before the incident occurs, so that you and your support network can plan appropriately. There are several tools you can use to help you assess and determine your needs. Charleston County has developed the 2012 Charleston County Disabilities and Other Special Needs Emergency Preparedness Guides (pdf). See additional resources below for more information.
- Be informed. Make sure you are informed about the potential risks that could affect you. You could be more vulnerable for certain risks because of your environment, functional abilities, or the area in which you live. Know your evacuation routes to leave both your house and your neighborhood. More information.
- Make a Plan. Using the resources and information that you have gathered in the first three steps, develop a plan that will work for any disaster or emergency. You may already have an emergency plan in place in case of fire, but if there is a widespread disaster, this plan may not be enough to meet your needs. The National Organization on Disability has some resources that can assist you to make an appropriate plan. Make sure to share your emergency plan with your support network. If you require sheltering during a disaster, Special Medical Needs Shelters may be available.
- Build an Emergency Kit. There are some general guidelines for creating an emergency supply kit available, but be sure to tailor this kit to meet your specific needs. Make sure to include medical records, medical insurance information, a week's supply of all medications you take, medical alert tags or bracelets that explain medical needs you have. In addition you may also need to include: supplies for your service animal, extra batteries for devices (e.g. hearing aids, wheelchairs, oxygen, etc.), wheelchair, visual aids or an extra pair of glasses.