An emergency can occur at just about any time and, very often, with no advance warning. Whether the appropriate action is to stay put or to evacuate, emergency preparedness is everyone's responsibility.
The disabled - including users of mobility assistive aids (walkers, wheelchairs or power wheelchairs) - need to be especially diligent in planning for the unexpected. The best way to ensure Power-Chair-at-door personal well-being in the event of an emergency is to prepare a portable emergency kit, have quick and easy access to mobility equipment and essential supplies, and to know precisely what needs to be done in case of emergency.
Everyone Needs Emergency Preparedness
Emergency rescue personnel, first responders and other relief workers do their best to assist citizens during times of urgent need. But, until that help can arrive, each person is responsible for their own safety and that of their family.
Basic Emergency & Disaster Kit1
- At minimum, a basic disaster kit should contain first aid supplies, medicines, personal hygiene materials, a blanket and enough food and water to last 3 to 10 days. (A similar kit should be kept in the car at all times.)
Supplies and Preparedness for Power Chair & Scooter Users
- Maintain all mobility products, devices and accessories in one location -- ready for use.
- Return wheelchairs, power chairs and scooters to their storage area every day.
- Keep extra assistive aids nearby (spare glasses, hearing aid, cane, walker, etc).
- Store and charge batteries according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Store a travel scooter and/or a foldable manual wheelchair with the portable kit.
The information contained herein is merely a brief overview of some of the most important actions to take in order to prepare for major emergencies. Not every tip listed here will be applicable to every one's situation.
Ultimately, emergency disaster preparedness is an individual and continuing process that requires careful planning, ongoing adjustment and attentiveness to making certain all essential items are readily at-hand – long before disaster strikes.
For more detailed information, please see: DisasterAssistance.gov – Resources & Preparedness Guides for People with Disabilities and FEMA / Ready.gov – Emergency Planning for Individuals with Disabilities/Access Needs
This article is for general informational purposes only.
1A full list of basic emergency kit supplies may be accessed here: Be Red Cross Ready (Adobe® Reader is required to view the document).