Emergency Preparedness FAQ

Q1)  What are the various types of emergencies/disasters that I should be preparing for?

Q2)  As a person with a disability, should I have a plan for when I’m at home and another one when I’m at work?

Q3)  Are there different plans I should have for an emergency if I can’t leave my home OR if I have to evacuate my house?

Q4) What if my community or neighborhood needs to evacuate the area during an emergency? 

Q5)  How can I know what type of help I will need to plan for during an emergency, if I’ve never been through one before?

Q6)  Are there certain things I should always carry on me at all times, in case of an emergency?

Q7)  What are some things that I should have a checklist to ensure I’ve covered things in my home during an emergency?

Q8).  What should be in my Disaster Supplies Kit?

Q9)  What do I do if I regularly take specific medications and I need them during an emergency?

Q10)  I have a physical disability and live on a farm in northern Minnesota.  What do folks like me who do not live in the cities do, in case of an emergency?

Q11)   I have two pet cats and my roommate uses a service dog because she is blind.  What do we need to plan for to make sure they are okay during an emergency?

Q12)  Where can I find more information about emergency preparedness?

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Q1)  What are the various types of emergencies/disasters that I should be preparing for?

A)   There are many types of emergencies that can happen to individuals and/or communities at large.  The most common ones include fire, tornado, blizzard or winter storm, flood, landslide/mudslide, chemical incident, utility failure, terrorist incident, or heat emergency.

Q2)  As a person with a disability, should I have a plan for when I’m at home and another one when I’m at work?

A)  Yes.  You should work with your family members to research and make a plan for your household.  You must COMMUNICATE with others, not only family members but friends, neighbors and direct support professionals. Develop a network of individuals that you can rely on for assistance. Meet with these individuals and create a preparedness plan, discuss what would happen in different types of emergencies: Fire, tornado, flood, etc.

Remember, when creating an emergency preparedness plan, proximity is very important, so rely most on those closest to you. This plan goes beyond home: It applies to locations where you spend significant time, such as schools, clubs, community centers and volunteer settings.

In the workplace, the setting and needs may be different.  Work with your employer to develop a plan and emergency kit for your workplace.

Q3)  Are there different plans I should have for an emergency if I can’t leave my home OR if I have to evacuate my house?

A)  Yes.  You will want to create a “Stay (Home) plan” and a “Go (Evacuation) Plan” to ensure you will have what you need when you need it.  There is more information for each in the consumer guide section of this website.  MSCOD’s Consumer Guide

Q4) What if my community or neighborhood needs to evacuate the area during an emergency?

A)  This is a very good and often overlooked question. Contact the emergency planner for your area and ask for a copy of the community evacuation plan.*

Learn your community’s evacuation plan:

  • Will your community have transportation options available?
  • Are the shelters accessible?
  • How will you secure a sign language interpreter?
  • Will guides or assistants be available?

*Also look into volunteering to serve on a committee that addresses disability issues in your community to ensure that disability-related issues are not forgotten or minimized in your community’s Emergency Preparedness planning stages and implementation process.

Q5)  How can I know what type of help I will need to plan for during an emergency, if I’ve never been through one before?

A)  This is a GREAT question!  It’s imperative to assess your needs, capabilities and limitations, as well as your surroundings to determine what type of assistance you might need in any given emergency (i.e. Tornado, Chemical Spill, Pandemic, etc.).  Think “worse-case scenario” and ask yourself:  what do I do if such-and-such happens?

These are just a few of the things to do/to consider:

  1. Arrange for a relative, friend or neighbor to check on you in an emergency. Discuss with them how they will gain access into your home if you’re not able to open the door.
  2. Review possible transportation options, such as a personal vehicle, friend or contact your local para-transit system before the emergency occurs.
  3. Also, create a Back Up transportation plan, in case your first choice is unavailable due to being affected by the emergency.
  4. Make sure that you have adequate PCA support (if you use one).
  5. Post EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBERS where you can find them easily, near the telephone or programmed into your cell phone. Make extra copies for each emergency kit.
  6. TEACH CHILDREN and others in the household what to do, who to call and when.
  7. Locate your EMERGENCY KIT, take the battery or crank-operated RADIO and listen for emergency information.

Q6)  Are there certain things I should always carry on me at all times, in case of an emergency?

A)  Yes.  Pack the following items (this list does not include everything, but it is a starting point) in a back pack or drawstring bag which can be stored on your wheelchair, scooter or other assistive device.

1. Your Emergency Health Information Card..
2. Copy of Emergency Documents.
3. Essential medications/copies of prescriptions (at least a week’s supply).
4. Flashlight on key ring.
5. Signaling device (whistle, beeper, bell, screecher).
6. Small battery-operated radio and extra batteries

(excerpted from PrepareNow.org etiquette tips page)

Q7)  What are some things that I should have a checklist to ensure I’ve covered things in my home during an emergency?

A)  Checklists are useful in making sure important things are not forgotten during an emergency – for your “Shelter-in-Place”:

IF PLANNING TO STAY IN YOUR HOME:

  • Post emergency telephone numbers where you can find them, near the telephone or programmed into your cell phone.
  • Teach children and others in the household what to do, who to call and when.
  • Listen to a battery or crank-operated radio for emergency information.
  • Know where the flashlights are located.
  • Know where the First-Aid kit is located.
  • Arrange for a relative, friend or neighbor to check on you in an emergency.
  • Teach those who may need to assist you in an emergency on what to do:
    •  the best way to notify you of an emergency if you are deaf or hard of hearing
    •  how to assist with a transfer
    •  how to do a blood pressure check
    •  how to assist with an insulin injection
    •  how to operate necessary equipment, medication, etc.
  • Keep family records, medical records or other important documents in watertight, fireproof containers.
  • Consider getting a medical alert system that will allow you to call for help if you are immobilized in an emergency.
  • Consider getting a medical ID bracelet or medical dog tags that state your medical condition.
  • Try to identify a second exit, in case the primary exit is blocked. At a minimum, have some ideas on how you would evacuate in this situation.
  • Consider your transportation options; do you have access to a vehicle ?
  • Do you have a network of friends, family or neighbors that would be able to provide transportation in an emergency?
  • Does your transportation provider have resources available during an emergency?
  • Pick one out-of-state and one local friend or relative for family members to call if separated by disaster.
  • Consider getting a medical alert system that will allow you to call for help if you are immobilized in an emergency.
  • Consider getting a medical ID bracelet or medical dog tags that state your disability.
  • Pick one out-of-state and one local friend or relative for family members to call if separated by disaster.
  • Pick two meeting places:
    • A place near your home in case of a fire or tornado.
    • A place outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home after a disaster.
  • Learn how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at main valves or switches.
  • Know how to connect or start a back-up power supply if needed.
  • If you live in an apartment, ask the management to identify and mark accessible exits.
    • PLAN AND PRACTICE HOW TO ESCAPE FROM YOUR HOME IN AN EMERGENCY.

Q8).  What should be in my Disaster Supplies Kit?

A)  Good question.  Assemble supplies you might need in an evacuation and store them in an easy-to-carry water-proof/water-resistant container such as a backpack or duffel bag.

Included should be:

  • A battery or crank-operated radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries for them.
  • A first aid kit, extra pair of glasses.
  • If you take medication or use supplies, make sure you have a week’s worth, if not more, available and travel-ready.
  • A supply of water – store water in a sealed, unbreakable container. Identify the storage date and replace every six months.
  • A supply of non-perishable food and a non-electric can opener, plus any special food you require.
  • A sturdy whistle.
  • Cash or travelers checks.
  • Soap and sanitation products.
  • A change of clothing, rain gear, and sturdy shoes.
  • Blanket or sleeping bag.
  • Important family & medical documents that include:
  • A list of family physicians and the relative or friend who should be notified if you are injured.
  • A list of the style and serial numbers of medical devices such as pacemaker.
  • Keep family records, medical records or other important documents in your disaster supply kit in watertight containers.
  • An extra set of car keys.
  • Plastic garbage bags.
  • If you have a baby, include extra diapers and other infant care items.
  • Food and water for your service animal, if you have one, for one to two weeks.
  • Extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, medication, catheters, food for guide or service animal, or other special equipment you might need.
  • Back up generator if needed, for life support purposes.

Q9)  What do I do if I regularly take specific medications and I need them during an emergency?

A)  It is best if you are able to maintain at least a 7 to 14 day supply of essential medications (heart, blood pressure, birth control, diabetic, psychiatric orphan drugs, etc.) and keep this supply with you at all times. If this is not possible, even maintaining a three day supply would be extremely helpful.

Work with your doctor(s) to obtain an extra supply of medications, as well as extra copies of prescriptions. Ask if it would be safe to go without one dosage periodically, until an adequate supply has been accumulated? Make several copies of your prescriptions and put one copy in each of your survival kits, car kit, wallet, with your Emergency Documents and your evacuation plan.

Ask your provider or pharmacist about the shelf life and storage temperature sensitivities of your medication. Ask how often you should rotate stored medication to ensure that the effectiveness of the medication does not weaken due to excess storage time.

If you are on medications which are administered to you by a clinic or hospital (such as methadone, or chemo or radiation therapy) ask your provider how you should plan for a 3 – 14 day disruption.

If you are a smoker, be aware that smoking will not be allowed in shelters. If getting to an outside smoking area may be difficult for you, consider stocking your evacuation kit with nicotine gum or patches available by prescriptions.

Life in cramped, unheated shelters can increase the chances of pneumonia, influenza and colds. therefore, equip your kits with any vitamins or medications you take to guard against getting sick and to cope with being sick.

(per PrepareNow.org etiquette tips page)

Q10)   I have two pet cats and my roommate uses a service dog because she is blind.  What do we need to plan for to make sure they are okay during an emergency?

A)  Many people live with pets and many others use service animals due to their disabilities, so it is imperative to develop not only an emergency plan for yourself but for your beloved animals as well.  Here are just a few things to collect/assess in order to ensure their safety:

DATE COMPLETED/ ACTIVITIES

__________I.D. Tags and License are current.

__________Animal Care Plan.

__________Be prepared to Function Without Assistance from service animal – Identify

Alternate Mobility Cues.

__________Assemble Service Animal’s Emergency Kit

I.D.’s and Licenses

Make sure your service animals and pets have I.D. tags with both your home  and/or mobile telephone number(s) and that of a your primary out of town contact person. Make sure your animal’s license is current.

Animal Care

Plan how your pets will be cared for if you have to evacuate. Pets, in contrast to service animals, may not be allowed in emergency shelters due to health regulations, so have some animal shelters identified! Contact your local Red Cross chapter or state office of emergency management for guidance.

Establish relationships with other animal owners in your neighborhood. In case you are not home, there will be someone to help your animal.

Alternate Mobility Cues

Pets and service animals may become confused, panicked, frightened or disoriented in and after a disaster: keep them confined or securely leashed or harnessed. A leash/harness is an important item for managing a nervous or upset animal. Be prepared to use alternative ways to negotiate your environment.

Service Animals Kit (for 7 days)

Container suggestions: pack supplies in a pack that your animal can carry in case you need to evacuate.

This kit should include:

  • Bowl for water and food
  • Food
  • Blanket for bedding
  • Plastic bags and paper towels for disposing of feces
  • Neosporin ointment for minor wounds (Animals can easily get cut after certain types of emergencies. Ask your veterinarian if there is anything specific you should include for your animal.)
  • A favorite toy or two
  • Extra harness

(per PrepareNow.org tips for service animal/pet owner’s page)

Q11)  I have a physical disability and live on a farm in northern Minnesota.  What do folks like me who do not live in the cities do, in case of an emergency?

A)  This is a great question – thanks for asking!  Because of increased isolation, in Minnesota’s RURAL AREAS, response times are longer and resources can be greatly reduced.  Therefore:.

  1. If you’re a farmer, rancher, or other agricultural worker with a disability, plan for the additional challenges of responding to an emergency in your particular setting..
  2. For example, set up a detailed plan of action and form a peer support network to assist in taking care of livestock in case of an emergency such as fire, tornado or flood – many accidents occur while trying to attend to animals when disaster strikes..
  3. Also, contact friends or family who are 15 to 40 miles away and make emergency arrangements with them for temporary livestock care..
  4. Make sure to have legal and adequate markings to prove ownership of your livestock, and practice loading your animals as a disaster drill, so you and the animals are familiar with the effort.
  5. Prepare a livestock disaster box with ropes, halters, concentrated feed, medicines, copies of ownership papers, buckets or feed nets, garden hose, flashlight or lantern, blankets or tarps, portable radio and spare batteries, and livestock first aid supplies.
  6. Remember that the survival instincts of livestock can make normal handling techniques ineffective.
  7. THE ACCEPTED PRIORITY SYSTEM FOR SAFETY AND EVACUATION is people first, then pets, then livestock, then property. In case of FIRE: Open possible escape routes and recapture animals later.
  8. Be very detailed when completing your Emergency Plan and Emergency Kit. Consult EquipALife’s AgraBility web site for assistive technologies that may help you better plan for emergencies.

For more information:

www.agrability.org/Resources/at

www.EquipALife.org

Q12)  Where can I find more information on emergency preparedness?

A)   In addition to the material on the MSCOD website, you will be able to find more information on emergency preparedness at the following links: