Reflecting on the recent disaster in Japan – and past natural disasters around the world – I wonder how many of us are actually prepared for an emergency. Those of us with medical needs may have to take some extra precautions and may also have more to take into consideration.
How ready are YOU for an emergency situation or disaster? If you had to evacuate your home or place of business right now, what would you bring with you? Would you even consider your disease or disability in those panicked moments?
The key is to prepare for an emergency or disaster NOW. Sure, you hopefully will never need to use your “emergency kit” or take any of the following advice. That being said, there’s always a chance that you may….so it is good to know “just in case!” As they say…”better safe than sorry!” Even if you have physical limitations, you can protect yourself. Knowing what to do is your best protection and, it is your responsibility.
Recently, the AGRIAbility Project did a free webinar for farmers and ranchers with disabilities such as arthritis. It was about emergency preparedness. You can read more here.
Here are some more useful tips:
* Know your neighbors…especially if you are child or elderly person. They may be the people who save your life. Have their contact information in case of an emergency, particularly if you are home alone. Or, set up plans beforehand to check on one another in an emergency situation.
* Assemble a disaster-supply kit. For your safety/comfort, you need to have emergency supplies packed and ready to go before disaster hits. You should assemble enough supplies to last for at least three days. What would you would need in an evacuation? Consider both medical and general supplies. Store them in something that is easy for YOU to carry. A backpack, a duffel bag, or something ergonomic and relatively arthritis-friendly. Make sure your bag has an ID tag with your name and contact info. Label special equipment, such as wheelchairs, canes or walkers that you would also need. Bring a first-aid kit, eyeglasses, medications, health insurance card, photo identification, batteries for wheel chairs, hearing aids, flash lights, etc. and anything you’ll need for comfort – a small pillow, bandage wrap, splint, etc. Also put in this bag a list of family members or friends who need to be contacted in case of an emergency and in case you’re found injured. Think of what else you need – non-perishable food, water, cash, clothing, blankets, jackets, a whistle, and so forth. (Don’t forget to pack for family or make sure that they do…and also remember your furry friend, if your pet is traveling with you!)* Be aware of the best escape routes from your home. Plan this ahead of time. The same goes for transportation. Plan ahead! Know what you would do, when and if an emergency (from a house fire to an earthquake) strikes you and your home.
* Be aware of your physical limitations.
* Find safety zones in your home. Where would you hide within your house, for each type of emergency if you couldn’t or shouldn’t escape?
* Have a plan to signal the need for help in case you are trapped.
* Enter emergency phone numbers in your cell phone, and post somewhere near your home phone, too. This being said, try to always have your cordless phones and cellular phones charged. Car chargers are a great investment!
* If you have home health care service, plan ahead with your agency for emergency procedures.
* If you have a special wheelchair, motorized scooter, etc. teach those around you how to use this medical equipment if need be.
* Prepare for loss of utilities such as water or electricity. As an FYI, please note that most utility companies require those who are dependent upon electrically run medical equipment to register with them before a disaster occurs. Consider this now.
* Decide where to meet, in case you get separated from family or friends during a disaster. Make sure everyone knows the meeting spot.
* If possible, wear comfortable and sturdy shoes in the instance of an evacuation. Also wear appropriate clothing, in layers.
* If in a car, have a tire repair kit.
* If you have a white flag to signal distress, pack it, too.
* Wear a medical ID bracelet to quickly alert emergency personnel to your health condition and/or allergies.
* If possible, carry with you a summary of your medical conditions and health history.
* Schools have fire drills. Do you? Run through your exit strategy and disaster plan in case of emergency.
* If you have a portable, battery-operated TV or radio, bring it!
* If you must leave your home, try to make sure it is locked with windows shut and locked.
* Only use travel routes suggested by or approved by local authorities. If you try any back roads or short cuts you may put yourself in more danger.
* If you are stuck in your home, be aware of potential hazards around you.
Keep in mind that shelters are not always the best place for chronically ill people. They may potentially have a lot of sick people/germs and may not be great if you are immunosuppressed. Also, they may not be equipped to treat your specialized condition. If you need medical assistance and if you’re able to, your best bet is a hospital.
Hopefully, you’ll never need to use any of this information. However, “knowing is half the battle.” Contact your local Arthritis Foundation if you have more questions about emergency resources for people with arthritis in your area.
Stay Safe & Be Well,
Text the word MOVE to 50555 to give $5 to the Arthritis Foundation!
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Thank you chronicdiseasepreparedness.org and sssccgov.org for some of the information found in the above article!