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Prepare to Protect
2021 National Preparedness Month - Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love. National Preparedness Month is an observance each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. Disability intersects every demographic group—there are people with disabilities of all ages, races, genders or national origin. And, disabilities can impact a person in a variety of ways—both visible and invisible. For people with disabilities and their families, it is important to consider individual circumstances and needs to effectively prepare for emergencies and disasters.
Disasters are a year-round threat that can impact a family, community or entire region of Arkansas in a matter of minutes without warning. Many Arkansans are annually displaced from their homes due to natural disasters like tornadoes, flooding, ice, fire and other forms of severe weather. But, the million-dollar question is, “Are you prepared to protect?”
What will you do if you have to replenish your medicine because you lost power and you were unable to refrigerate your medications? What if lightning strikes your home and your power supply for your assisted devices are blown? How will you move around your home and evacuate if the situation arises?
Disasters are never convenient and seem to impact us at the worst possible moment. However, there are ways to better prepare yourself and your family to weather the storm a little smoother.
- Make a plan! See our toolkit for help.
- Start a disaster fund for unexpected costs. After a disaster, you may find yourself paying out of pocket for medications, equipment and other needs that insurance may not cover the replacement of. Avoid the stress of these costs by putting money back monthly to cover costs that your provider may not assist with.
- Create an emergency kit. Emergency kits can be as easy as loading up a backpack or small bin with toiletries, extra clothes, nonperishable food, water, a first aid kit and more. If you or a loved one has a developmental disability, consider extra items that assist them with living comfortably on a daily basis. Include extra medication and batteries for medical equipment. Make sure to have a copy of your PASSE ID card, insurance, medical information, doctor’s contact information and caregiver information to provide to emergency personnel if you need assistance after an evacuation. See our checklist here.
- Create a personal support network. Identify coworkers, neighbors and other community members that can assist you with safe evacuation and assist emergency personnel with responses about your individual needs.
- Inform local emergency management about your specific needs. In emergencies, time can feel very short and the ability to inform local emergency management and personnel of your needs can pass before you’re cared for properly. Before an emergency strikes, register for Smart 911 to help your local emergency personnel know your location, needs and your environment so they can easily identify and assist you.
- Always have a backup plan. More times than not, our biggest advocates can be impacted by other emergencies and may not be able to aid us in our time of need. Establish multiple individuals who can help you in case your primary contact cannot. If you cannot reach a place of evacuation, have a backup plan for relocation. If your power is out, equip your home with a backup power supply. Empower yourself to take care of yourself.
For more tips and a detailed checklist, go to the emergency preparedness Resources page on our website for free tools.
Ready.gov also has many resources to support people with disabilities and their support network to be prepared. Visit https://www.ready.gov/disability to learn more.