Getting Ready for Emergencies with Persons with Disabilities

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"Woman hugging child"

Emergencies happen often. A family member might get badly hurt. Your home might lose power. You may need to leave your home because of a storm. Emergencies are hard for my sister, Emily. Emily has Down syndrome and autism.

There are ways to prepare for emergencies ahead of time. There are also ways to deal with emergencies when they happen.

Tips on how to get ready for emergencies ahead of time:

  1. Write Down Your Routine. Make a list of your family’s daily routine. Keeping a routine is often important for people with autism. It is helpful to have this written down to help your family keep up with it in an emergency. More information on autism and routines here.
  2. Ask for Help. Make a list of people who are able to help your family. One way of doing this is a phone tree. You will just need to call one person. That person might be able to help your family. If not, then it will be that person’s job to call the next person on the call list. These are phone tree templates.
  3. Pack a Bag. It is helpful to have an emergency bag packed if you need to leave home in a hurry. Download a packing list for people with disabilities. 

Tips on how to deal with emergencies when they happen: 

  1. Be Patient. Emergencies are stressful. People might act differently than usual. Try to understand how yourself or your loved one with disabilities might be feeling. Also, try to think about why people might be acting certain ways.
  2. Try to Have Fun. Try to find ways to include fun in whatever you might be dealing with. For example, if the lights go out—you might build a fort with sheets. Sit inside with flashlights.
  3. Be Helpful. It can be hard to sit still when something bad happens. It might be good to help others if it is safe.

 

For more info on getting ready for emergencies for yourself or your loved ones with disabilities, please visit: the Center for Disease Control Emergency Preparedness website or the UMass Medical Emergency Preparedness and Response website.

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