As a power wheelchair user, do you know what to do in an emergency? Do you have a plan or survival kit? Are there people who can help you during a disaster?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, it may be time to start thinking about what your needs would be during an emergency or weather-related disaster. In partnership with the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, the Red Cross offers some great tips on emergency preparedness for people with disabilities. By creating a disaster plan that addresses your needs as an electric wheelchair user, you ensure your safety and the safety of your loved ones in a time of crisis.
Create a personal support network
These individuals can help you before, during and after a disaster occurs. Some things you can do with members of your personal support network include exchange keys, outline evacuation plans, and share health care card information.
Complete a personal assessment
Consider your current medical needs and think about what you will need in an emergency. For example, do you rely on adaptive equipment to complete daily grooming tasks? If the power goes out, do you have a generator that can be used to charge the batteries on your electric wheelchair? Work with your personal support network to figure out what resources you need to meet your needs.
Learn about your community’s plan
Reach out to your local Red Cross and find out about evacuation plans and designated emergency shelters. If you do not own a vehicle or cannot drive with your motorized wheelchair, speak to community leaders about how they plan to evacuate residents who don’t have private transportation.
Make a disaster-preparedness plan
Meet with your family, friends, caregiver, or personal attendant and discuss potential hazards that could affect your community. Develop an action plan for each hazard and discuss escape routes that can accommodate your electric wheelchair.