to the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) data, there are 54 million Americans with special needs for whom a flood can be especially dangerous
Because emergencies and disasters strike quickly without warning, members of our communities with physical or cognitive disabilities are most at risk. It’s important that caregivers and loved ones keep the proper emergency preparedness resources and stay attentive to local disaster forecasts and notifications.
Research Ahead of Time
There are three stages of notice issued by weather services to warn communities as conditions indicate an increased likelihood of flooding.
- Flood advisory
- Flood watch
- Flood warning
However, flash floods involve large amounts of water moving rapidly over land, and can occur with considerably less time for preparation. Family and caregivers for disabled individuals are encouraged to check with county geologists (or their city planning department) to find out if their home is located in an area prone to flash flooding or landslides.
Prepare an Emergency Kit
In the event of a flood, the stress alone can worsen many medical conditions. It’s important that access to medication and other essential items are not compromised at any time during an emergency.
- Prescription medication
- First aid kit
- A pen that is appropriate for particular disability
- Battery-powered flashlight
- Battery-powered radio
- Forms of identification
- A practical amount of cash in smaller bills
- Spare house and car keys
Consider packing a medical identification tag in the emergency kit to use as soon as a warning is issued. Tags help notify medical professionals of specific conditions that need immediate attention in case the wearer is unconscious or too injured to speak.
Create a Personal Support Network
It is vital that special needs persons are able to receive whatever assistance they need in the worst of times. A group of at least three contacts properly acquainted with important information could make a very big difference during a flood, or flash flood.
- General knowledge of the disability
- Family contact numbers
- Location and contents of the emergency kit
- How to use or move assistive devices and equipment
- A list of all food and drug allergies
Some or all of this information can be written or typed and distributed between contacts. It may also be a good idea to have one contact in the support network living in another city or state, where they are unlikely to be under the same weather conditions.
Lastly, the emPOWER Map is a reliable tool for finding electricity-dependent equipment claims in states, counties and zip codes across the United States. There are over 2.5 million Americans who rely upon electricity-dependent medical and assistive equipment, so this is definitely a resource to keep handy in the event of a flood.