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Be Prepared, Stay Safe: Getting Ready for a Disaster

Submitted by Alexis Muirhead, CVI Vision Rehabilitation Therapist

September traditionally signals the end of hurricane season, and the cooler fall temperatures bring an end to the summertime threat of major forest fires, heat waves, and power blackouts. September is also National Emergency Preparedness Month, a reminder to stay informed and get prepared for major natural and man-made disasters.

For people with visual impairments, preparing for a disaster such as a tornado or a terrorist threat brings special challenges. For example, accessing information such as news alerts or weather reports may be more difficult if it’s hard to read or see the television screen when emergency broadcasts are televised. Mobility issues pop up when it comes to planning an evacuation route, or figuring out where the closest shelter is located. It also can be very hard to find the extra money needed to purchase emergency food, water, and other supplies.

Given some of these concerns, it’s even more important for people with visual impairments to plan carefully and prepare ahead of time. Start getting ready by taking a personal assessment, and ask yourself the following questions: What are your daily living needs? What do you typically need help with? How do you get from place to place? What medications do you need to take? Do you require a cane, or a sighted guide? If so, would you be able to train a complete stranger, like a neighbor or an EMT, to give you the right guidance?

After you’ve considered these basic questions, you can start gathering some of the supplies you’ll need. Here’s a list of items recommended by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Association:

Photo of emergency prepared kit items

  • Water (one gallon per person, per day). Have a two-week supply for the home, and a three-day supply for evacuation.
  • Food (non-perishable, easy to prepare items)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • First-Aid kit
  • Seven-day supply of your medications, and medical items like syringes and glucose test strips
  • Multipurpose tool, like a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items like toilet paper, face wipes, hand sanitizer, tampons, etc.
  • Cell phone with a charger
  • Written or recorded copies of family and out-of-state emergency contact information
  • Emergency clothing and blankets
  • Copies of personal documents (lease/deed to your home, proof of address, a list of the medications you take, and your relevant medical history).

This list is not comprehensive, but it should help you get started on building an emergency supply kit. Try to fit all of these items in one supply bag that you can easily take with you if you need to evacuate your home.

And remember the “Five P’s” saying we use here at CVI: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. Don’t be caught unprepared by a disaster.

For more information on how you can prepare for an emergency check out these resources below:

1. Emergency Preparedness Resource Event. Get Ready Gwinnett!

LEARN. PREPARE. BE READY

An Emergency Preparedness Seminar and Resource Fair hosted by the Gwinnett Emergency Preparedness Committee

Date: Saturday, September 15, 2012
Time: 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Location: Annandale Village
3500 Annandale Lane, Suwanee, GA 30024

Get Ready Gwinnett! Free seminar and resource fair. Learn about information and resources available for those with physical and developmental disabilities. Exhibitors represent emergency management agencies, first responders, disability and senior community organizations and other businesses who serve the access and functional needs population in Gwinnett.

For more information go to www.getreadygwinnett.org, or call 770-995-3339.

2. The National Federation of the Blind has collaborated with AccuWeather® to provide instant Emergency Weather Alert Information to the Blind and Print Disabled via NFB-NEWSLINE®. For more information go to www.nfbnewsline.org or call 1-866-504-7300.

3. Disability Resource Group provides education and resources for people with disabilities on preparing for an emergency. Contact them at 770-451-2340 or online at www.disabilityresourcegroup.org.

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