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Be prepared

I can’t believe that June is here already and the hurricane season is upon us. It’s that time when many call God a Bajan and refuse to take heed of any warnings.

I truly hope that the majority of us have “matured” enough to the point where we keep our cupboards stocked with the necessities and even consider protecting our homes and personal effects by acquiring insurance.

When it comes to the disabled we all need to be a lot more diligent including the disabled themselves. There are considerations to be made and decisions which need to be sorted out as it pertains to short and long term plans and below are some that are very important to remember when it comes to preparing for any kind of disaster.

Be Informed

Ask about special assistance programmes available in the event of an emergency. Many communities ask people with a disability to register, usually with the local fire or police department, or the local emergency management office so needed help can be provided quickly in an emergency. Let your personal caregiver know you have registered, and with whom.

Find out what emergency plans are in place in your community, workplace, and service agencies. Look over whether those plans have considered your specific needs.

* Identify what the plan is for notifying people when a disaster may be on its way or is actually occurring.

* Consider how a disaster might impact your daily routines. Make a list of your specific needs before, during and after a disaster.

Know Your Resources

Decide what you will be able to do for yourself and what assistance you may need before, during and after a disaster. This will be based on the environment after the disaster, your capabilities and your limitations. Think about the following questions as you assess your disaster-related needs. Base your plan on your lowest anticipated level of functioning.

* Do you use communication devices? If so, make sure if they are battery operated that you keep the batteries well in stock

* Do you depend on accessible transportation to get to work, doctor’s appointments, or to other places in your community?

* Do you receive medical treatments (e.g. dialysis) on a regular basis?

* Do you need assistance with personal care?

* Do you rely on electrically dependent equipment or other durable equipment?

* Do you use mobility aids such as a walker, cane, or a wheelchair?

* Do you have a service animal?

In addition to knowing emergency plans, you should also have disaster supplies that pertain to your needs. In general, you should have enough food and water to last 72 hours after a disaster, and you should have a ready-to-go emergency kit with the following items:

* Medical equipment and assistive devices (glasses, hearing aids, catheters, augmentative communication devices, canes, walkers). Label each with your name and contact information. Be sure to have extra batteries and chargers.

* Medications, including a list of the prescription name, dosage, frequency, doctor and pharmacist. Also consider if medications need to be refrigerated and if so, bring a cooler with an ice pack or other coolant system.

* List of emergency contact information.

* Copies of important documents.

* Flashlight and radio with extra batteries.

* Sanitation and hygiene items. Including soap, denture care, absorbent pads, etc.

* Supplies for a service animal including food, identification tags and proof of up-to-date vaccinations.

I’m glad that this list was compiled for the disabled individual, giving them the responsibility of looking out for themselves. I think it goes without saying that there are some caregivers who definitely need to see this list as they have critical decisions to make depending on the severity of their charge.

However, the disabled are quite capable of making decisions which impact significantly on their lives and should have all relevant information at hand to safeguard themselves.

I hope that we as able bodied individuals take away all that is relevant to us on the above list so as to protect ourselves and our families and to be as best prepared as possible. Also it is important to note the hurricane shelters closest to you in case an evacuation needs to take place. There are many of them which are divided into categories and it’s something to take special note of.

In conclusion, while we pray for the best and hope that no kind of destruction comes to our nation, it is always best and wise to be prepared at all costs. There’s nothing worse than knowing you had the opportunity to prevent something, but couldn’t because of your own ignorance.

Let’s not get caught napping this hurricane season. Instead, let’s be wise and make disaster preparedness a must for us. Our lives may depend on it!

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