Preparedness for People With Disabilities
A PERSONAL SUPPORT NETWORK
personal support network (sometimes called a self-help
team, but referred to only as a "network"
in this booklet) can help you prepare for a disaster.
They can do this by helping you identify and get the
resources you need to cope effectively with a disaster.
Your network can help you practice vital activities,
like evaluating your home or workplace. Network members
can also assist you after a disaster happens. You should
put together your network before you assess what your
needs will be during and after a disaster. First consider
the ways to develop your personal support network, then
turn to page 11 for suggestions on how you can prepare
for a disaster.
a network for your home, school, workplace, volunteer
site, and any other place where you spend a lot of
time. Members of your network can be roommates, relatives,
neighbors, friends, and co-workers. They should be
people you trust and who could check to see if you
need assistance. They should know your capabilities
and needs, and offer help within minutes.
Do not depend on only one person. Include a minimum
of three people in your network for each location
where you regularly spend a lot of time during the
Think of what your needs would be during a disaster
and discuss these with each of your networks. Complete
a written assessment of your needs with your network
in the space provided in the following section. This
can help your network members learn the best ways
to assist you and offer additional ideas for you to
Give your network members copies of your emergency
infor- mation list, medical information list, disability-related
supplies and special equipment list, evacuation plans,
relevant emergency documents, and personal disaster
plan when you complete them.
Arrange with your network to check on you immediately
if local officials give an evacuation order or if
a disaster occurs. Do this before an emergency happens
so that your network members can help you when you
need them. Also, ask your network to notify you of
an emergency you may not know about. For example,
if a siren or loudspeaker system notifies a neighborhood
of a disaster and you are Deaf or have hearing loss,
be sure that your network knows to give you this information.
Ask them to give you any other disaster-related information
that is not already in writing, such as radio information
about the disaster or the location of shelters.
Agree on how you and your network will contact each
other during an emergency. Do not count on the telephones
working. Also, choose a signal for help that you both
understand. Signals can be shouting, knocking on the
wall, or using a whistle, bell, or high-pitched noisemaker.
Visual signals could include hanging a sheet outside
Give the members of your network all the necessary
keys they may need to get into your home, car, etc.
Show your network how to operate and safely move the
equipment you use for your disability, if necessary.
Ask them to "practice" with any of your
special equipment. This will help them feel more comfortable
when using it during an emergency.
Make sure your service animal knows the people in
your network. This will make it easier for the animal
to accept care from someone other than yourself.
Explain to your network any assistance for personal
care that you may need. Give them written instructions
on how best to assist you and your animals.
Label your equipment and attach instruction cards
on how to use and move each item. Laminate the instruction
cards for added durability.
Inform your network about any areas on your body where
you have reduced feeling. Have them check these areas
for injuries after a disaster if you cannot check
Practice your plan. Based on your knowledge of the
disasters in your area, simulate any problems or obstacles
you may experience. Have the members of your network
practice how to help you, and familiarize them with
any adaptive equipment you may need.
Choose an emergency meeting place you are familiar
with where you and others can reunite after exiting
a building. You should select a meeting place for
each area where you spend a lot of time.
Select with your network a signal that you can use
to let them know you are okay and have left the site.
Give your network your travel dates if you will be
Review and revise your personal assessment and disaster
plan regularly, or as your condition changes. Your
network should help in this review as well. You will
also find that as you and your network practice, all
of you will find problems and solutions you have not
thought of before.
trusting relationship you develop with the members of
your network should be mutual. Learn about each other's
needs and how to assist each other during an emergency.
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a Personal Assessment >