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Safety Begins at Home: Emergency Escape Plan for
Loved Ones with Mobility Challenges
By Jennifer Wilson, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 3)

Itís important to determine what will be needed for each type of emergency. For example, most people head for their basements during a tornado warning, however, most basements are not wheelchair-accessible. In this case, what modifications will you need to make, or will you be able to utilize an alternative shelter thatís easier for your loved one to get to? Another good idea is for you to create more than one exit for a loved one who is confined to a wheelchair, in case the primary exit of your home is blocked in a disaster. In case of a power outage, make sure you know how to connect or start a loved oneís back-up power supply that may be needed for important medical equipment. Make sure to teach others who might assist your loved one in an emergency how to operate this type of equipment as well. Itís also good to know which emergency shelters near your home are wheelchair-accessible.

If your loved one lives on their own in an apartment complex, be sure to ask the buildingís management to identify and mark all accessible exits. Itís also a good idea to arrange for a relative or neighbor to check on your loved one should they live on their own. Not only should you have emergency phone numbers posted near telephones and/or kept in wallets or pocket books at all times, but itís also a good idea to select one out-of-state and one local friend or relative for you or your loved one to call if youíre separated in a disaster. Select one place near your home to meet-up together in case of a fire, and another place to meet outside your neighborhood in case you canít return home after a disaster. If you are at home when a disaster strikes, know how to quickly access and turn off the water, gas, and electricity at main valves or switches. If your loved one is able to do so, it is a good idea that they also know how to turn these things off as well, should they be home by themselves when disaster strikes.

Preparing a disaster supply kit is a definite must when you are caring for a loved one whose life may depend upon certain medications and other such items. When appropriate, some of these things can be stored in easy-to-carry containers like backpacks or duffel bags. Larger items like a manual wheelchair or back-up equipment may be stored in a ďsafe-roomĒ in your house, or at a neighborís house, school, or workplace.

Other important items to remember include:

  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries
  • First-aid kit, prescription medicines, and an extra pair of glasses
  • A supply of water (one gallon per person per day); store water in sealed, unbreakable containers and replace every six months
  • A supply of non-perishable food and a non-electric can opener, plus any special foods your loved one may require
  • Include extra products like adult diapers, wipes, lotion, and other hygiene items that donít need water in order to use

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