Disaster Information for People with Disabilities

A new resource is available to help you, your family, and your business develop a disaster plan. This excellent planning tool is available at www.floridadisaster.org. The Association for People with Disabilities suggests developing an evacuation plan, a communication plan, and obtaining general disaster supplies. However, a person with a disability may have additional planning to do. Planning before a hurricane or other disaster is critical!

* If you must evacuate, do you have transportation?

*Where will you go?

*How will you get there?

*While you may not normally need the services of the local transportation provider, will you need their services during an emergency? *Are you registered to receive their services?

*Flood zones and mobile homes are the primary areas from which you should evacuate, but you need to decide whether you will stay or go, even if evacuation is not mandated. If you are going to leave the area, make sure that you leave the area early.

* If electricity goes out for three or more days, can you stay in your home? Do you use any durable medical equipment that needs electricity to function? If your equipment is battery operated, how can you get the battery recharged?

* If you are deaf or hard of hearing, since most of the media coverage is by radio or television, do you have a support system to let you know what is going on?

* If you have a personal care attendant that comes to your home or place of work, what will happen if they cannot get to you?

* Will you have enough medications or medical supplies to last at least two weeks? Do you have medications that need to be refrigerated?

* Do you have plans for your service animal? Your pet?

* Do you have food and water to last at least 72 hours?

It is essential to pay attention to local emergency managers and if directed to, be prepared to evacuate. If required to evacuate, a shelter may or may not be the best place for you. Don't assume that all people with disabilities should go to a special needs shelter.

* Do you have friends or family who can provide you a safe structure in which to stay?

If you are dependent on electricity, need transportation to evacuate, or need assistance because of age or disability, it is important that you are on your county's Office of Emergency Management registry. Each county handles the registry of persons with special needs and the provision of services for persons with special needs a little differently.

Call your local Office of Emergency Management and register in advance, so your county will be able to prepare for your needs and let you know their procedures. By completing the plan on http://www.floridadisaster.org, the information about your local Office of Emergency Management will be provided to you.