Preparing for an emergency when you’re living with a chronic illness or disability
Natural disasters such as severe storms, bushfires and floods are common in Australia and especially Queensland. Research shows that people with disabilities are twice as likely to die or be injured during natural disasters than the general population and this is often as a result of lack of planning.
We’ve provided some brief steps below to help you consider some of the areas where you may need help and how you can plan for these.
STEP 1. Each person knows their own capabilities and requirements so the best place to start is to reflect on what areas of your life you may require extra help in the case of an emergency. For example, how will you raise the alarm if you need help? Do you have enough medication available if you can’t access a chemist, or do you need assistance with administering your medication? Do you need accessible transport and how will you access this in an emergency?
STEP 2. Once you’ve considered the things you may need assistance with, take the time to consider who you may lean on in an emergency. For example, immediate family, friends, colleagues or neighbours. Identify at least three people you can trust to share your emergency plans with and make sure they’re aware of your abilities and needs. Is there anything they need to learn i.e. will you need them to administer medication and do they know how to do this?
STEP 3. Review the information you’ve gathered and make an emergency plan. Some things to include are an emergency contact list, an evacuation plan for your house, any critical life support equipment and electricity requirements, a medical information list with your medical conditions, medications and dosage, doctors, adaptive equipment, allergies and sensitivities, health insurance/Medicare details etc.
STEP 4. Create emergency kits. It’s recommended you have two, one that can be accessed quickly if you’re evacuating and another if you’re staying in the home. Make a list of all of the items you need to be thoroughly prepared. An additional consideration for people who use a wheelchair is, do you need a manual wheelchair in the event of the power being out for an extended period?
STEP 5. This is an easy one but also easy to let slip. Remember to review your plan at least once per year. Make sure your support network is aware of any changes and confirm they’re still prepared. Make sure your emergency kit remains stocked and nothing has expired. It’s also recommended that you take the time to practice your plan. It’s during this practice you may realise changes need to be made or your support person needs training etc.
This is just a brief summary but if you head over to imokay.org.au there’s a range of tools to help you prepare for an emergency.