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Emergency Preparedness

Why should you be prepared?

Each year disasters and emergencies affect thousands of people.  Everyday things that people normally rely on such as transportation and communication go out of service.  One of the best ways to reduce the impact of disasters and help you recover quicker is to be prepared.  Being prepared can be the difference between barely surviving a disaster and death.

Being prepared has many different benefits:

  • Help reduce fear and anxiety
  • Reduce impact from disasters
  • Helps you stay independent during and after an emergency
  • Makes it easier to advocate for yourself
  • Help prevent property damage and financial loss

Preparing for a disaster does not have to be a long or hard process.  We are providing information below covering the four steps to help you be prepared for a disaster.  Remember this does not have to be done all at once!

The 4 steps in preparing for a disaster

  • Personal Assessment
  • Emergency Plan
  • Emergency Kits
  • Stay Informed

Why should you do a personal assessment?

A personal assessment asks questions that help you learn what you may need during an emergency.  Your answers help you make your emergency kit and emergency plan.  It can also help emergency workers know what you need.

A personal assessment will help you determine:
Emergency KitEmergency Plan

What kind of assistive technology you will need?

  • Extra battery for power wheelchairs
  • Extra hearing aids

What kind of support system you need:

  • Help from family
  • Personal assistants or staff

What will help you communicate with people who come to help you?

  • Laminated communication sheets
  • A white board and dry erase marker
  • Pen and Paper

How will you learn about an emergency:

  • Are you registered with county alert systems?
  • What are the resources in your town or county?

What type of food will you need to pack:

  • Easy to open food (can you use a manual can opener?)
  • Easy to use water storage
  • Food that doesn't need to be cooked

How will you evacuate:

  • Is the route accessible?
  • How will you get transportation?
  • Do you have many choices for transportation?

What medication to include:

  • Do you have extra medication? (recommend to have 7 days)
  • Do you need cold storage for medication?

How will you get the help you will need:

  • Do you have a well established personal network? (family, friends, neighbors, co-workers)

What type of clothes will you need:

  • Easy for you to put on
  • Extra layers for warmth
  • Supplies for Support Animals
 

Service animals and pets:

  • Do your pets need medication? (recommend to have 7 days)
  • Do you have 2 weeks of extra food for each one of your animals?
  • Extra leashes and food bowls for each of your pets

Service animals and pets:

  • Is your pets' veterinary information easy to find?
  • Do you have your certification or doctor's note showing you need a service animal?
  • What exactly does your service dog do for you? 

To help you with this process, we have included our personal assessment worksheet.  Go through this worksheet and ask yourself questions that will help you understand what you will need to do, and what you will need to be prepared.

The second step to being prepared is to make your emergency plan.  An emergency plan outlines the steps you will take to deal with an emergency.  Every emergency plan should have the following things:

  • List of common emergency situations
  • A house map
  • Communication plan

Why is it important?

Taking the time to plan helps you be prepared for any situation that arises AND helps you stay independent.  Remember to practice your emergency plan so you know if it works.  You might need to add things you forgot to your emergency plan.

List of common emergency situations

Have a list of emergency situations that could happen where you live.  Knowing what could happen will help you make an emergency kit and emergency plan that meets your needs.  Ask friends and family about emergencies they have seen or experienced in the area where you live.  Below are some common emergency situations.  Which of these might you experience?

ChemicalDroughtEarthquake
FireFloodFlu
Food shortageHeat waveHurricane
LandslidePower outageTerrorism
ThunderstormTornadoTsunami
VolcanoWater safetyWildfire
Snow stormOther _________Other __________

Draw a house map

A house map will help you see where and how you should evacuate.  It will help you remember where your emergency supplies are located.  Your map should have:

  • Location you will meet family, friends or helpers in case of emergency (meeting location)
  • Location of your emergency kit (where do you keep it?)
  • Location of your nearest shelter
  • Location of your mobility devices (usually next to you or near exits)

Other considerations for your house map:

Safe places

Find the safe places in your home for each type of disaster.  For example during an earthquake you will need to "drop, cover, and hold on" under a sturdy desk or table.  However, during a tornado you will need to seek shelter in a lower level room without windows.

Meeting locations

Choose multiple meeting places.  Different disasters may require you to go to different places.  Make sure you choose three meeting places:

  • In your neighborhood
  • Just outside your neighborhood
  • Out of town

Make sure that everyone in the household knows all three locations.

Escape routes

Determine the best escape routes from your home.  Find two ways to get out of each room.  This can be a challenge for someone who uses a wheelchair or is on a second floor.  Think about and figure it out now, not when you need it.

Utility locations

Sometimes in an emergency you will need to shut off your utilities (gas, electricity, water) to your home.  Knowing where the shut off switches are for your utilities before an emergency will save valuable time.

Communication plan

A communication plan includes a list of your emergency contacts and other important numbers.  Remember in a disaster you might not be able to use your cell phone.  Keep a paper list of phone numbers you might need that include:

  • Emergency contacts (friends, family, service provider, etc.)
  • Electric, gas and water companies
  • City, county and state police
  • Pharmacist
  • Doctor(s)

Your communication plan includes a list of important information about you.  You should have lists of the following:

  • Current medications
  • Food/drug allergies
  • Preferred food
  • Special diet (for diabetes, soft food, mechanical diet, etc.)

A communication plan is an important part of your emergency plan.  The point of a communication plan is that it provides you with information that you need AND it helps you tell others what you need.

Steps in creating your communication plan:

Establish your personal network

It is important to establish your personal network.  These are people who know you well.  They can help you prepare and you can rely on them for help during an emergency.  This personal network can help with transportation and evacuation.  Your personal assessment should give you an understanding of what help you will need and how your personal network will help fill the gaps.  Remember the people on your list may also be trapped.  It is important to have many people that you can call or who will check on you.

Collect important phone numbers

It is important to make a list of phone numbers you might need during an emergency.  Your cell phone might not work or may run out of power.  Write or print these numbers on a piece of paper.  You can also print out SILC's Emergency plan and Communication plan template to help you keep track of this information.  Keep the list in an accessible location, not just in your phone.

Suggested numbers

Your personal network

  • Emergency contacts (friends, family, service provider, staff)
  • Anyone with a landline
  • Work numbers

Utility companies

  • Electric company
  • Gas company
  • Water company

Medical personnel

  • Your Doctor(s)
  • Pharmacy
  • Nearest Urgent Care Center (write down the address)

Emergency personnel

  • City Police
  • County Police 
  • County non-emergency numbers
  • Idaho State Police

Establish how and what you will communicate during an emergency

Emergency managers and front line workers will be very busy during an emergency.  They won't have specific information about the people they are trying to help.  Make it easier for them to help you by thinking about the following:

  • How you will tell them what you need
  • What is the best way for you to tell them?

Figure it out now so that you can remain as independent as possible during and after an emergency.

Common communication devices to use in an emergency

Laminated sheets

Have laminated sheets that will have important information about you and things you might consider important to communicate to emergency workers.  Information that you might want to consider:

  • Instructions for your assistive technology and supplies
  • Common phrases or questions you may have
  • Answers to common questions usually presented to you

Paper and Pen

  • Small white board and dry erase pen
  • Cards that tell workers you are Deaf or that you are a paraplegic before the disaster, and not as a result of the wall falling down on you.

To Help with each one of these steps, fill out our worksheets!

One of the best things you can do to be ready for an emergency is to have an emergency kit.  An emergency kit is more than a first aid kit.  Your emergency kit is unique to you.  Different people need different things in their kit.

Here are some tips for your emergency kit:

  • Your emergency kit should last up to two weeks
  • You do not have to put it all together at once.  You can make it over time.
  • Train people you know and trust on how to use your assistive devices (power wheelchair, talking devices)

Basic emergency kit

  • Water
    • You need at least two gallons of water per person per day.
    • Include some small bottles that can be carried easily in case of an evacuation order.
  • Food that won't spoil or need to be cooked such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods
    • replace food and water once a year
  • Manual can opener
  • Wind-up or battery powered flashlight with extra batteries that fit the flashlight
  • Wind-up or battery powered radio with extra batteries that fit the radio
  • First aid kit
  • Seven days worth of prescription medications (minimum of a week's supply)
  • MedicAlert(R) bracelet or identification
  • Extra keys to your car and house
  • Cash in smaller bills, such as $10 bills, and change for payphones
  • Copy of your emergency plan and contact information
  • Two additional gallons of water per person per day for cooking and cleaning
  • Candles and matches or lighter (place candles in sturdy containers and do not burn unattended)
  • Change of clothing and footwear for each household member
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each household member
  • Toiletries, and sanitizer, utensils
  • Garbage bags for personal sanitation
  • Toilet paper
  • Household chlorine bleach or water purifying tablets
  • Basic tools (hammer, pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, work gloves, dust mask, pocket knife)
  • A whistle (in case you need to call for help)
  • Duct tape (to tape up windows, doors, air vents)
  • Detailed list of all specialized items in the event they need to be replaced (wheelchair, communication device, computer, oxygen, CPAP, etc.)

Considerations

  • Make sure ALL emergency kit items are organized in one place so they are easy to find and carry
  • Tag all of your specialized equipment including instructions on how to use and/or move each device during an emergency
  • Complete a checklist and personal assessment sheet and provide a copy to your members of your personal network(s).  Keep a copy in your emergency kit(s).
  • If you have food or drug allergies wear a MedicAlert(R) bracelet
  • List all food/drug allergies and current medications on paper.
    • For each medication specify the medical condition being treated, the generic name, dosage, frequency, and the name and contact information of the prescribing physician.
    • Provide this list to your designated network members
    • Keep a copy in your emergency kit
  • Carry a personal alarm that emits a loud noise to draw attention
  • Be aware that experiencing an emergency can be overwhelming.  Stress can make some medical conditions worse.

Service animal and pet emergency kit checklist

This is a checklist for the basic items you should prepare to keep your service animal and pets comfortable during an emergency.  Make sure the kit is easy to carry in case of a home evacuation.

  • Minimum 72 hour supply of bottled water and pet food
  • Portable water and food bowls
  • Paper towels and manual can opener
  • Medications with a list identifying medical condition, dosage, frequency and contact information of prescribing veterinarian
  • Medical records including vaccinations
  • Leash and collar
  • Pet crate
  • Blanket and toy
  • Plastic bags
  • Bandages (a dog's paws could get cut on rough terrain)
  • Up-to-date identification tag with your phone number and the name/phone number of your veterinarian (a microchip is recommended)
  • Recent photo of your service animal or pet in case you are separated
  • Name of the service animal's training center and qualifying number (for identification purposes - if you have it)
  • Copy of license (if required)
  • Other: ____________________________________

Good for you!  You have made your emergency kit and have your plan written.  You've even practiced.  WAIT - you're still not done preparing for an emergency.  You need to know when an emergency has been declared.  Being informed is just as important as your kit and plan.  There are many different ways to be informed.

Social media

Don't be afraid to follow your local emergency management on social media.  This will let you know when training or events are available.

Alert systems

Sign up for your local emergency alert system.  Each county has their own local alert system.  This will send you an email or a text of local emergencies.  To sign up go to your counties website.

Local emergency managers

Contact your local emergency manager to find out what is available in your area.  They will know about events and different opportunities for you to participate in!

Additional resources

Local Resources:

Idaho Office of Emergency Management

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Public Health Preparedness

Idaho VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster)

National Resources:

Red Cross

Center for Disease Control

Ways to obtain your medical records

SILC's Emergency Preparedness Worksheets:

How To Steps

Personal Assessment

Emergency Plan

Communication Plan

Pet Plan

Idaho Inclusive Emergency Coalition

The Idaho Inclusive Emergency Coalition is a workgroup of stakeholders, individuals with disabilities and organizations who work in the emergency management field committed to providing tangible results to inclusive emergency practices in the state of Idaho.  The coalition meets once a month for an hour.

If you are interested in participating in the coalition contact Jerry Riener by email:  jerry.riener@silc.idaho.gov or call the SILC at 208-334-3800

DON’T WAIT!  Learn more today by calling the Idaho SILC.  Ask for Emergency Preparedness Assistance and Information

Contact us at:
Address: 380 S. 4th St., Ste. 102
Boise, Idaho 83702
Phone: 208-334-3800
Email: jerry.riener@silc.idaho.gov
mel.leviton@silc.idaho.gov
Website: https://silc.idaho.gov/