We all have things to take into consideration when trying to prepare ourselves and our loved ones for a worst case scenario. In the case of a disaster, most of us are able to evacuate if necessary, easily get to a friend’s or neighbour’s house, or be comfortable sheltering in place at home. However, it might not be so easy for someone who relies on the use of elevators, electrical wheelchairs or scooters, or required assisted transportation.
Mobility limitations can come in the form of using a wheelchair, cane, crutches, walker, braces, or a number of other forms. Heart conditions, lung complications, or even age can significantly affect our ability to react or move quickly in the event of an emergency.
If you are someone with a disability or special need, and find you are faced with challenges on a daily basis, these challenges can multiply in an emergency. Knowing what your risks are, developing a plan in case of emergency, and preparing an emergency kit can greatly affect the outcome a serious situation can have on you. What if the elevators were not working in your building, the automatic doors would not open, or you could not charge the battery in your wheelchair? How would this affect you and your ability to overcome an emergency?
Plan ahead to ensure you have someone who will check in on you when something happens, that a friend or family member has a spare key in case you cannot get to the door to let them in, and that they know how to work your equipment if you have any.
Keep your emergency kit easily accessible, easy to carry, and make sure it has enough supplies for at least 72 hours. There are extra light and communication devices that can help with things like charging your phone, radio news updates, or a survival whistle to aid in your safety. In addition to your emergency kit and having a support person who can help assist you, there are extra precautions to consider:
- Wear a medic alert bracelet if you have any food or drug allergies
- Carry a personal alarm that will emit a loud noise to get the attention of others
- Have an emergency backup power supply or generator if you rely on life saving equipment
- Keep a list of instructions for your equipment
- Have alternate contacts persons in case your emergency contact cannot get to you
- List of all your medications and have refills if possible.
There may be additional supplies needed in case of an emergency, especially if you already experience limited mobility and are faced with obstacles like a power outage that will limit you even more. The Government of Canada website has some other helpful information of things to consider as well.
There is no better time to prepare yourself than now; tomorrow may be too late.