escape routes

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A person in a wheelchair icon

A person in a wheelchair icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We need to discuss seniors and disable persons and what types of things they can do to get prepared for emergencies. They obviously have their own sets of physical limitations and demands and need to prepare for these as much as possible. I’m sure we all have someone we can think of that will need that little bit of extra help, your elderly neighbor, grandparents, a brother or sister.

Some ways to do this is to set up a Personal Support Network. Designate someone to check on you in an emergency and to help with evacuation or sheltering-in-place. This can be a neighbor you trust, a family member that lives close or a nearby friend. Remember to pick someone you can count on to be there for you and someone who doesn’t live to far away, in an emergency you will need them to be able to get to you and if they live across town this can become tricky if infrastructure has collapsed and roads are clogged.

It would also be a good idea to prepare and carry with you an emergency health information card. Include information about your medications, blood type, allergies and sensitivities, adaptive equipment you use, insurance numbers, immunization dates, communication difficulties and preferred treatment, as well as contact information for your health providers, personal support network and emergency contacts.  This is a vital part and cannot be overlooked, so be sure to get this part done and kept in a place that will be easily accessible

For those of you that receive assistance from a home healthcare agency or in-home support provider, find out how the provider will respond in an emergency, what polices or procedures do they have in place? If they don’t have any then you need to make other arraignments or see if they can implement a policy/ procedure for you. Designate a backup or alternative providers that you can contact in an emergency and have those contacts handy.

Disabilities that require you to use a wheelchair also take special planning. You need to plan on how to evacuate in an emergency and discuss it with your care providers. If you use a motorized wheelchair, have a manual wheelchair as a backup. If power goes down you may not be able to recharge your motorized chair for days and so you will need to plan for this by having a backup push chair ready to go. It would also be a good idea to have some sort of Bug-Out Bag that can be attached to the chair to hold supplies, such as medications and other personal items you may need if you have to evacuate.

For blind or visually impaired individuals things can get tricky fast. Your normal routes and paths may have changed or are no longer accessible so this can create dangerous new obstacles or obstructions so you will need to exercise caution when moving around. Keep an extra cane by your bed. Attach a whistle; in case you need to attract attention. Have a neighbor or friend that lives close prepared to check on you and help you escape if needed.

For the hearing impaired you will want to keep extra batteries for your hearing aids with emergency supplies in some sort of grab and go bag. Consider storing your hearing aids in a container attached to your nightstand or bedpost, so you can locate them quickly after a disaster. Also set up to have a neighbor, friend or relative that can check on you and offer assistance if needed.

Persons with Communication Disabilities should store paper, writing materials, copies of a word or letter board and preprinted key phrases in your emergency kit, your wallet, purse or back pack. This will help you get emergency assistance much faster by being able to communicate to rescue workers when needed. You should also have a supply kit ready to go and friends or family that can help you evacuate if needed.

These steps are all very important and it will get you on the right track to being safe and secure in the event of an emergency or disaster. These certain individuals all have their own sets of challenges but by doing a little planning they are easily overcome and you will feel a whole lot safer and prepared. So take the time and get started today because you never know when something might happen, and if you’re not ready you won’t have the time to do it when disaster happens.

Author: The Survival Guy



Start by talking with your family about the potential disasters you could face and why it’s necessary to prepare for them. This could be lots of different scenarios but take look at the most common ones for your demographic area, this could be Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes or Flooding or maybe a combination of all of them. Be sure to involve each member of your family in the planning process, especially your kids. By showing them simple steps that can increase their safety, you can help reduce their anxiety about emergencies and how they will react when the real thing happens. Here are some topics and ideas to discuss and plans to make during your talk.

  • Make sure everyone knows where to find your Emergency Disaster Supply Kit and Bug- Out Bags.
  • Have a flashlight and a pair of shoes under everyone’s bed in case there is an earthquake during the night or any other disaster that might cause you to need to leave your home quickly. Use a plastic bag or backpack tied to the leg of the bed to keep these items handy and ready to go.
  • Plan where to meet after a disaster if your home becomes unsafe. Choose two places, one just outside your home and one outside your neighborhood in case you are told to evacuate the area. Be sure your gas tank is always at least half full because you won’t be able to fill up before you go.
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home. Try to identify two escape routes in case one is cut off so you can still get to a safe distance. Also prepare a route that you can use to hike out if needed.
  • Make sure each member knows who your family’s out-of-state contact is and instruct them to call this person and tell him/her where they are.
  • Locate the gas main and other utilities and make sure family members know when and how to turn them off. This is very important especially if you have gas as a primary energy source. Explain to them to watch out for fallen power lines when attempting to escape.
  • Practice your evacuation routes, Drop, Cover & Hold and Stop, Drop & Roll drills. Try to make this fun yet it is a very vital part when planning. This will get your kids ready for different emergency scenarios and if or when an actual disaster happens they will feel more comfortable because they’ve done it before.
  • Teach each member of your family how to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Create emergency response cards for each of your family members.
  • Take into account the special needs of children, seniors or people with disabilities, family members that don’t speak English and pets.

This list is not all conclusive but it gives you a great starting point, and let’s face it you have to start somewhere. So take an evening or afternoon with your family and get planning, you’ll be glad you did.

Author: The Survival Guy