Disaster Planning and Spinal Cord Injury

While the snow storms of winter may be behind us, those of us in warmer climates are just gearing up for hurricane season. So to help you get prepared we wanted to share the following advice from the Florida Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center.

June 1st marked the official start of hurricane season. And every year we’ve been providing you with resources and links to help you prepare.  Landfall might not happen this year or even next, but eventually something will come our way.  Are you prepared?  We have been lucky for a few years now but this year’s prediction of an ABOVE-AVERAGE season should hopefully jolt you out of any complacency.  Obviously, the best course of action is to get out of the way of a storm’s path altogether.  However, for some of us, that just isn’t a realistic possibility.  Therefore, you must have a plan.  Keep reading to discover some ways to make your preparation as effective as possible.

hurricane season

SCIs and those with disabilities need to take special precautions when it comes to supplies, medications, and equipment.  Consider what YOU need to do and take an active role in protecting yourself and your family.  Results from focus groups conducted by the National Organization on Disability’s Emergency Preparedness Initiative (EPI) show that people with disabilities need to take on a more self-reliant role in emergency planning.  We are the only ones who know exactly what our needs and abilities are. And we should be diligent in communicating this information to those who will help us. That goes for before, during, and after a disaster.

Some quick suggestions:

  • Preparedness is a personal responsibility.  It begins with the individual.
  • Submit an application to your county’s special needs shelter if you think you qualify.  If your county does not have a special needs shelter, contact your county emergency management office.
  • Create an emergency plan and practice it with your friends and family members.
  • Be part of the solution.  Not the problem.

One aspect of preparation that’s becoming more important is the use of technology.  FEMA’s Ready Campaign puts emphasis on integrating technology into individuals, families, and businesses preparedness plans.  Taking a few early steps now could save you a lot of headaches later on.  Having a plan might even save your life!  A 2012 Nielson report revealed that nearly 55 percent of mobile phone owners in the United States own smartphones. As a simple resolution, Ready is asking all smartphone owners to turn the technology into a life-saving tool. During and after an emergency or disaster.

Below are additional ways the Ready campaign recommends implementing technology into your hurricane season emergency plans:

  • Learn how to send updates via text and internet from your mobile phone to your contacts and social channels in case voice communications are not available;
  • Store your important documents such as personal and financial records in the cloud, in a secure and remote area, or on a flash or jump drive that you can keep readily available so they can be accessed from anywhere; and;
  • Create an Emergency Information Document by using Ready’s Family Emergency Plan template in Google Docs (use Google Chrome to view) or by downloading the Ready Family Emergency Plan to record your emergency plans.
  • The FEMA App (smartphone app for mobile devices) contains disaster safety tips, interactive lists for storing your emergency kit and emergency meeting location information, and a map with open shelters and open FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs). The app is free to download through your smartphone provider’s app store
  • Download the Resolve 2B Ready 2013 Toolkit for tips and actions you can take.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact Ready at ready@fema.gov.

The links below offer additional information and tools to become prepared for hurricane season.

  • Smart911 is a free service that allows citizens across the U.S. to create a Safety Profile for their household that includes any information they want 911 to have in the event of an emergency. Then, when anyone in that household dials 911 from a phone associated with their Safety Profile, their profile is immediately displayed to the 911 call taker.  That provides additional information that can be used to facilitate the proper response to the proper location. At a time when you may be panicked, or unable to communicate, or it could be unsafe to communicate, Smart911 ensures that the details you would need to tell a 911dispatcher are immediately available if you cannot provide them verbally.
  • The Florida Disability Disaster Plan web page – This resource, developed by Volunteer Florida and hosted by the Florida Division of Emergency Management, is one of several tools available to help persons with disabilities and their families develop a “Florida specific” Disaster Plan.  Find county information on sheltering, plan creation, and videos.
  • Ready.gov – Launched in February 2003, Ready is a national public service advertising campaign designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.  Visit the People with Disabilities and Other Special Needs page where you can find some tips and tricks to help you prepare.  Ready.gov advises those with disabilities to: (1.) Get a Kit of emergency supplies, (2.) Make a Plan for what you will do in an emergency, and (3) Inform yourself about what might happen.  For further details, download a PDF version of Preparing Makes Sense for People with Disabilities and Special Needs.

Please take a look and form your own practical disaster plan should you find yourself in a potential catastrophic situation.