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Disaster Preparedness Tips for Families Affected by Autism

Disaster Preparedness Tips37

Tip #1. Practice calm

Parents and care providers need to project a demeanor of calm during a disaster or emergency, even if we're not! Children and adults on the spectrum may sense your emotional state - and mimic it. Practice for and prepare to project a sense of calm.

Tip #2. Prepare for immediate needs before disaster

  • Be ready to evacuate. Have a plan for getting you and your loved ones out of your home or building (ask family or friends for assistance, if necessary). Also, plan two evacuation routes because some roads may be closed or blocked in a disaster.
  • Create a self-help network of relatives, friends or co-workers to assist in an emergency.
  • If you think you may need assistance in a disaster, discuss your disability with relatives, friends, and co-workers and ask for their help.
  • Give a key to a neighbor or friend who may be able to assist you in a disaster.
  • Contact your local emergency information management office now. Many local emergency management offices maintain registers of people with disabilities so they can be located and assisted quickly in a disaster.
  • Wearing a medical alert tag or bracelet to identify your disability may help in case of an emergency.

If you have a severe speech, language, or hearing disability:

  1. When you dial 911, tap space bar to indicate TDD call.
  2. Store a writing pad and pencils to communicate with others.
  3. Keep a flashlight handy to signal whereabouts to other people and for illumination to aid in communication.
  4. Remind friends that you cannot completely hear warnings or emergency instructions. Ask them to be your source of emergency information as it comes over their radio.
  5. If you have a hearing ear dog, be aware that the dog may become confused or disoriented in an emergency. Store extra food, water and supplies for your dog.

Consider your pets and plan to take care of them in advance, particularly if sheltering is necessary, so you can concentrate on the rest of the family as danger approaches.

Have a disaster supply kit on hand that you can use at home or in an evacuation setting. Kits should include:

  1. Flashlight with extra batteries
  2. Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  3. First aid kit and manual
  4. Emergency food and water for at least two days (per person)
  5. Manual can opener
  6. Essential medicines for three to seven days
  7. Cash and credit cards (be sure to withdraw cash in advance)
  8. Sturdy shoes

Also, in case of evacuation, pack a safety & comfort kit, which can include:

  1. Blanket
  2. Pillow
  3. Folding chair
  4. Sleeping bag or cot
  5. Personal hygiene items
  6. Identification and valuable documents (insurance, birth and marriage certificates, and special-needs forms)
  7. Change of clothes
  8. "Comfort" items such as CD players and CDs (with extra batteries) or DVD player and DVDs
  9. Ear plugs or eye shades
  10. Storage boxes to store small items, could be plastic with lids
  11. A drawing of the building layout and map of the area to give an orientation of where you are in relation to your home.
  12. An ID bracelet and autism information cards to explain behaviors to others.

Some of these helpful tips are provided in part by FEMA's report, "Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilities," and the Baltimore Sun Sentinel.

Tip #3. Prepare for needs in your home now so that you'll be ready after disaster strikes

Look for items that may have broken or been displaced that could cause a hazard, particularly electrical lines.
Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside the home, basement, garage, or camper - or even outside near an open window.

Follow instructions for disaster supplies kit and the safety & comfort kit outlined in Tip #2.

 

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