Emergency Preparedness header

Emergency Preparedness

Few people are prepared for emergencies.  That is why these situations feel so chaotic.  But if you prepare yourself ahead of time, it could save your life and spare your family from experiencing terrible grief.

The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Secondary Conditions in the Rehabilitation of Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) recently conducted a web survey (http://sci-health.org/resources/polls#) on emergency preparedness among individuals with SCI.  In the event of a crisis such as a fire, one-third of respondents stated that they would be able to safely evacuate their homes by themselves.  Another one-third of respondents could escape with some assistance from another person.  The rest of those surveyed did not have an exit strategy in place.

Regardless of your current level of readiness, you can improve your ability to handle unexpected crises and flee to safety.  There is a wealth of information on the internet, but searching for it can feel complicated and overwhelming.  Keep in mind that there are three basic steps to preparing for emergencies:

1.   Learn which hazards exist in your community and what plans are in place in the event that disaster strikes.
2.   Build a portable emergency kit containing everything you would need to spend three full days without assistance.
3.   Develop a detailed plan describing exactly what you would do in an emergency, and share it with your family and neighbors.

Three organizations—the American Red Cross, Ready America, and FEMA—offer extremely well-organized, thorough advice.  To get started, read the checklist provided by the American Red Cross, which offers a brief overview of the whole process.  Once you are familiar with this list, you are ready to work out the details.

To complete the first step of preparation, examine the wide variety of potential emergencies compiled by Ready America.  Since different disasters require different responses, identify which ones are most relevant to your region of the country.  Fire is a danger in any building you inhabit, so pay particular attention to those safety procedures.

To complete the second and third steps of emergency readiness, read FEMA’s brochure Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and other Special Needs.  Print yourself multiple copies so you can easily review and share the brochure with others.

Going through all these steps may seem like a lot of work, but it could be the difference between life and death.  Don’t just assume you have been included in any emergency plans already.  Since you know your own needs and abilities, you are in the best position to plan for your own safety.  Start preparing a little bit at a time.  The more you do, the more you can confidently act in a life-threatening situation.

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Websites on Emergency Preparedness

American Red Cross, Ready America
http://www.redcross.org/museum/prepare_org/disabilities/disabilitiesprep.htm

FEMA
http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?fromSearch=fromsearch&id=1442

Paraplegia News (PN)
http://www.pvamagazines.com/pnnews/magazine/article.php?art=676

Ready America
http://www.ready.gov/america/beinformed/index.html


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