Disaster planning is highly recommended for all, but as we know, even more vital for those with additional needs.
Autism and language processing disorders
Having clear instructions prepared, with symbols or pictures, will help save time. Keep these handy and easy to reach. Consider having multiple copies in a number of locations. If appropriate, practising these routines will help if ever needing to do them for real.
If your mobility issues, or the use of a wheelchair, would prevent you from crawling under a table, move near an inside wall of the building, away from windows and tall furniture which may topple. If in a wheelchair, lock your wheels. Cover your head and neck as best you can (if in bed use your pillow to protect your head, and pull the blankets up high). The advice is that Drop, Cover, Hold becomes Lock, Cover, Hold On. Teach co-workers, friends, how to help you manoeuvre or transfer in/out of your wheelchair.
Work with a group of friends to establish a system whereby they help to alert you when a civil defence warning is issued. Also, add a notebook and pens to your survival kit.
Be aware that your service animal may well become distressed, disorientated and confused during a time of civil emergency. Trained, certified service animals are allowed to stay in emergency shelters with their owner. Ensure that your emergency survival kit includes food, bowl, leash, toy and identification for your service animal.
- Add spares to your emergency survival kit - batteries for hearing aids, spare medications, food and equipment for service animal
- Keep a torch handy to alert people to your presence.
- For those with anxiety or sensory issues, add some calming toys/resources/oils/activities to your kit.
- Add a list of your medications, interactions and allergies.
- Wear an ID bracelet or tag identifying your needs/conditions.
- Consider your plan if you rely on electricity for medical conditions - oxygen, dialysis, power wheelchair (include alternatives if possible)
Contact your local civil defence emergency management office - https://www.civildefence.govt.nz/find-your-civil-defence-group/ - they may maintain a register of people with disabilities to ensure they can be assisted quickly in the wake of a disaster.
The Civil Defence Household Plan publication states that “People with disabilities have the same choices as other community residents about whether to evacuate their homes and where to go when an emergency threatens. Decide whether it is better to leave the area, stay with a friend, or go to a public shelter. Each of these decisions requires planning and preparation.”
Be prepared my friends.