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American Red Cross
Disaster Services

Disaster Preparedness for People With Disabilities

DISASTER SUPPLIES

A disaster supplies kit contains food, water, tools, and other things you and your service animal will need immediately after a disaster strikes. Your kit should have enough food and water supplies to sustain you and those you live with for at least three days, preferably seven days or more.

Note: You do not need to collect all the items for your disaster supplies kit all at once. First, pick out the supplies you already have and put them in your kit. Next, as you plan your weekly or monthly budget, try to include a few items for your kit. See the Disaster Supplies Calendar, Appendix B,for a suggested weekly shopping list. Talk with your personal physician about how you can collect and store a seven-day supply of necessary prescription medications.

There are different types of disaster supplies kits you should assemble. Combine the following kits as you need them, and store them somewhere that is easy for you to get to.

  • Basic disaster supplies kit (includes a first aid kit)
  • Portable disaster supplies kit
  • Disaster supplies kit for your car
  • Disability-related supplies and special equipment
  • Service animal and pet supplies

Basic Disaster Supplies Kit

Make a disaster supplies kit that contains your basic disaster supplies for home and your disability-related supplies. You should keep enough basic supplies to maintain you in your home for at least three days, preferably seven or more. Supplies you need related to your disability should last a minimum of seven days. Remember any special dietary needs you may have when planning your disaster food supplies. Refer to Appendix A, for a list of basic disaster supplies.

First Aid Kit: Put together a first aid kit. This will go in your basic disaster supplies kit. Include an American Red Cross first aid textbook. Enclose sanitary supplies, extra glasses (an old pair) and a case, and solution for contact lenses, if you wear them. Refer to Appendix A, for a list of items to include in your first aid kit.

Disability-Related Supplies and Special Equipment

List the special supplies and equipment you may need. Be sure to note the places where they are stored.
Refer to Appendix A, for a list of disability-related supplies and special equipment. This list is extensive and you may use only a few of the items listed here.

Keep mobility aids near you at all times. If you have extra aids (such as a cane), have them available in several locations.

Disability-related supplies can be part of both your basic and your portable disaster supplies kits. If you must leave your home for any reason, your disability-related supplies will be available to take with you. If you are confined to your home, these supplies will be available along with your basic disaster supplies kit.

Portable Disaster Supplies Kit

Get a drawstring bag, a pouch with lots of pockets, a fanny pack, or a small backpack and keep it within reach, by or on your chair, wheelchair, scooter, or other assistive device.

Your portable disaster supplies kit should include a copy of your emergency information list and other lists; a small flashlight; a whistle or noisemaker; water; extra medication and copies of prescriptions; an extra pair of glasses; a hearing aid; sanitary supplies; a pad and pencil or other writing device; and a pair of heavy work gloves for wheeling over glass and debris.

At night, keep these portable supplies either next to or under your bed.

Disaster Supplies for Your Car

Beside the basic disaster supplies listed in Appendix A, you should also carry other disaster supplies in your car. Store several blankets; an extra set of mittens or gloves, wool socks, and a wool cap; jumper cables and instructions; a small sack of sand or kitty litter for traction; a small shovel; a set of tire chains or traction mats; a red cloth to use as a flag; and a CB radio or cellular telephone in any vehicle you use regularly.

Service Animal and Pet Supplies

Like your disability-related supplies kit, the service animal and pet supplies can be part of your basic disaster supplies kit or your portable disaster supplies. This will depend on whether you evacuate or are confined to your home.

Your service animal and pet supplies should include food; water; a leash or harness; a collar; and identification tags. Dogs and cats should wear a collar and tags. Dogs should be led with a leash or harness; cats should be moved in a pet carrier. Keep an extra harness with your disaster supplies for each animal. Ask your veterinarian for first aid information and a list of supplies you will need for your animals.

Make sure that identification tags, licenses, and vaccinations are current for your service animal or pet. Identification tags should list both your home telephone number and that of your primary out-of-town contact person.

Power-Dependent Equipment

Some people may use a fuel-operated generator to produce electricity if power will be out for a long time. If appropriate and feasible, get a generator listed by Underwriters Laboratories (the generator will carry a label with the letters "UL" circled on it).

Some generators can be connected to the existing wiring systems of a house. But contact your utility company before you connect a generator to house wiring. Connecting a generator is specifically prohibited by law in some areas, so you must check with your local utility or fire department first. To run generators in an emergency, fuel must be safely stored. Generators need to be operated outdoors to guarantee good ventilation. If you get a generator, be sure your network is familiar with how to operate it.

If you use a battery-operated wheelchair, life-support system, or other power-dependent equipment, discuss with your power company the type of backup power you plan to use. Some utility companies offer a "priority reconnection service" for people with disabilities who use power-dependent equipment. Many utility companies keep a list and map of the locations of power-dependent customers in case of an emergency. Contact the customer service department of your local utility company(ies) to learn if this service is available in your community. Some utility companies may require a referral from your physician to qualify you for this service. However, even with this "priority reconnection service," your power could still be out for a long time following a disaster. Providing alternatives for your power-dependent equipment is still essential.

Additional Information on Equipment and Supplies

If you use a wheelchair or scooter-

  • Keep a patch kit and can of seal-in-air product in your portable disaster supplies kit to repair flat tires, unless these are puncture-proof. Also, keep an extra supply of inner tubes.
  • Keep a pair of heavy gloves in your portable disaster supplies kit to use while wheeling or making your way over glass and debris.
  • In areas prone to earthquakes, keep the wheelchair wheels locked and the wheelchair close to your bed at night to be sure it does not move or fall over.

If you use a motorized wheelchair or scooter-

  • Have an extra battery. A car battery also can be used with a wheelchair but will not last as long as a wheelchair's deep-cycle battery.
  • Check with your vendor to know if you can charge your battery by either connecting jumper cables to a vehicle battery or connecting batteries to a converter that plugs into a vehicle's cigarette lighter. Caution: Charge only one battery at a time.
  • If available, store a lightweight manual wheelchair for backup.

If you are Blind or have a visual disability-

  • Store a talking or braille clock or large-print timepiece with extra batteries.
  • Have at least one extra white cane.
  • Mark your disaster supplies items with fluorescent tape, large print, or braille.
  • Mark your gas, water, and electric shutoff valves with fluorescent tape, large print, or braille.
  • Store extra magnifiers.
  • Have an extra pair of glasses if you wear them.
  • Make photocopies of your information lists from this booklet.

If you are Deaf or have a hearing loss-

  • Consider getting a small portable battery-operated television set. Emergency broadcasts may
    give information in American Sign Language (ASL) or open captioning.
  • Keep pads and pencils in your home disaster supplies kit and with your car disaster supplies. Keep them with you at all times for communication.
  • Keep a flashlight, whistle or other noisemaker, and pad and pencil by your bed.
  • Keep a card in the disaster supplies kits (in your home and car), and with you at all times that indicates that you are Deaf. Include any other appropriate communication information such as, "I do (or do not) know American Sign Language (ASL)," or, "My service animal may legally remain with me."

If you have a speech-related or communication disability-

  • Consider buying a power converter if you use a laptop computer to communicate. A power converter allows most laptops (12 volts or less) to be operated from the cigarette lighter on the dashboard of a vehicle.
  • Be sure to have pencil and paper with you as a backup communication resource.
  • If you use an augmentative communication device (such as an electronic communicator or artificial larynx) that allows you to communicate by voice, be sure to keep it close to you at night in a safe place.
  • Store copies of a word or letter board and preprinted key phrases you would use in case of an emergency in all of your disaster supplies kits, your wallet, purse, etc.

If you use self-administered medical treatments-

  • Keep in mind that traffic delays and/or severe weather hazards can happen when you do not expect them. Be sure to carry the equipment and fluids (temperature controlled) you will need when traveling.

If you have a cognitive disability-

  • Keep a copy of any instructions or information you think you will need. Also, keep a copy of this information in the disaster supplies kits you keep both at home and in your car. Prepare this information in a way that is easy for you to understand. You may want to break down the information into a step-by-step outline. This format will help you remember what to do during the confusion of a disaster.
  • Have a pencil and paper ready to keep track of any new instructions or information you may receive.

Storing Supplies

Store emergency documents in sealed plastic freezer bags in your basic disaster supplies kit. Copies of lifesaving information (i.e., specifications for adaptive equipment or medical devices) should be stored in your basic disaster supplies kits and with your disability-related supplies, portable supplies kit, car supplies, and supplies you keep at work.

Keep other emergency documents in your disaster supplies kit for home so you can get to them in an emergency. (For a list of these items, see Appendix A Important Family Documents.) If you get benefits from Social Security (SSI or SSD), put a copy of your most recent award letter with these documents as well. (Note: financial assistance from the American Red Cross and other disaster recovery resources will not cause a reduction in your monthly grant.) Be sure to send copies of these documents to your out-of-town contact person (seal and mark them "open in an emergency for [name] only").

Store your disaster supplies kit in a safe, dry place that is easy for you to get to. This place should also be easy for your network, or anyone who comes to assist you, to identify. If you are going to put the kit on a shelf, be sure to secure it so that it does not fall and become inaccessible when you need it.

Replace your supply of food and water every six months. Also, check the expiration dates of stored prescription medications. Replace items in your supplies kit that are old or outdated. Remember to do this by putting new purchases in the kit and using the old kit items you purchased earlier. However, do not borrow items from the kit with the intention of replacing them later. You may forget to do so.

Summary Checklist for Disaster Supplies

Date Completed
Preparation
  Put together a basic disaster supplies kit for your home. It should have food, water, and other essential items you would need for at least three, but preferably seven days.
  Obtain a first aid kit and put it with your basic disaster supplies kit for home.
  Collect items for a disaster supplies kit containing items you need that are related to your disability.
  Put together a portable disaster supplies kit in a drawstring bag or pouch to carry with you at all times.
  Assemble a disaster supplies kit for your car or van.
  Assemble disaster supplies for your service animal and pet(s).
  Obtain a UL-listed generator if you have equipment that runs on electricity and needs backup power.
  Ask your utility company if a priority reconnection service is available in your area.
  Get a patch kit and canned air for wheelchair tires.
  Put heavy gloves in your portable disaster supplies kit if you use a wheelchair. Wear these gloves when wheeling over debris.
  Keep an extra battery available for a motorized wheelchair


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