When it comes to emergencies, basic needs for survival are the same for everyone: first aid, food, clean water, batteries, shelter, communication. If you or someone you know has a disability, basic needs can also include:
- power for electric-dependent equipment
- accessible shelter and transportation
- back up personal care
- provisions for service animal
- medication and medical supplies
While individual needs and circumstances vary, one thing is for sure: it’s not a question of if, but when, an emergency will happen. Take steps today to prepare for tomorrow.
First Responders: In the event of an emergency, the fire department is usually the first to respond. Do not wait for an emergency to call and let them know if anyone in your home has mobility challenges, medical conditions, or other considerations that are important for first responders to be aware of. If something occurs at your address, their responders will be prepared with the aide and equipment you need. While you’re on the phone, take the opportunity to ask them for information on emergency preparedness and where to go for information on accessible emergency shelters and evacuation plans.
Smart911: Did you know that over 70% of calls made to 9-1-1 come from mobile phones? When you dial 9-1-1 from a mobile phone, the 9-1-1 call takers have very little information to help you—only your phone number and a very general sense of your location. With Smart911, 9-1-1 call takers as well as first responders know exactly what you want them to know in any kind of emergency. Smart911 is a free service, paid for by public agencies ensuring free and equal access to all citizens of the community at no cost to them.
Map Your Neighborhood: Do the people in your neighborhood or apartment building know how to respond during the hours or days before fire, medical, police, or utility responders arrive? The Map Your Neighborhood program guides you and your neighbors through simple steps to help enhance your preparedness for an emergency. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors and make those important connections. Learn more here.
Utilities and Other Services: Make a list of utilities and communications services you use. Find and follow them on Twitter or Facebook for updates on outages, delays, and notices. Some have outage apps to download now, for use when you need it. Do the same for city and statewide agencies (such as the Department of Transportation) that can provide updates on road conditions, evacuation locations, and information specific to your area.
Create a Plan
Emergencies and disasters may force you to evacuate or stay in place at work, at home, or out in the community. Create a personal emergency response plan that identifies what you will need, how you will communicate, and where to go if you have to evacuate.
Important: If you receive services from the state (such as DDA), talk to your case manager about back-up care options and what you can expect from the agency in an emergency.
Disability-Related Planning and Preparedness Resources
READY: Prepare. Plan. Stay Informed.
Red Cross Guide for Individuals with Disabilities
Washington State Independent Living Council
DDA Caregiver Bulletin: Emergency Preparedness
Washington Emergency Management
PRINTABLE BULLETIN (PDF)