Accessibility

Preparing for Natural Disasters

In real-time here, it is cold! The temperatures are well below freezing and we have had snow squalls. My husband and I have been waiting for a modification to the gas fireplace insert to be made. Not having all of the heat go up the chimney would be nice! Did I mention it is cold here?

Visual impairments and natural disasters

The cold weather and the multiple problems caused by the snow squalls got me thinking. It might be time to do a page on visual impairment and natural disasters.

Disasters happen

Not that a little cold snap is a natural disaster. But we have had natural disasters in our town. In 2011 a good part of the town endured, shall we say, a little more water than normal. If you look, buildings normally only slightly above river level have a line painted on them and labeled “2011”. The height of those lines? Oh, about six feet. Parts of the town did take on a little water.

So, disasters happen. And they happen if you are disabled or not. The question is not whether or nor disasters will happen, but what to do when they do.

Preparing for natural disasters

Brailleworks.com had a nice piece on vision loss and natural disasters. The first thing they suggest is to plan ahead. Whom do you call to get you out or just help you out? What will you need if you stay? Or, for that matter, what do you take if you go?

Brailleworks.com suggests calling emergency services and getting your name on a priority list. If no one has instituted a priority list, talk to your local government about starting one.

Stay connected

Of course, if you are going to call for help, it is always a good idea to have a working cell phone. Keep your cell phone charged and keep it dry. If the electricity goes out for a long time here, we have a hand-cranked generator to charge the absolute basics. At least that way we have a phone that will work. Also, a light, since it is built into the generator.

Medications and other emergency necessities

What can you not live without? I ask that question pretty much literally. Do you have a supply of your medication? Is it easily accessible? Could you grab it easily for evacuation or, perhaps worse, to have if you get stranded living in your basement or attic for days?

Credit cards and important papers should be secured and readily available. Going to stay with your sister may be a great plan... provided you have money for the bus fare.

Not evacuating? Here's the plan:

If you have decided to hunker down and stay put, clean water and food can become problems. Make sure you have enough stored for several days. In 2011, the National Guard brought in tanker trucks of fresh, clean water and set up stations on street corners. That was great for people who could go and get their own. Whom would you send for water for you? Make sure the neighbors know you are still in residence so they can help.

Oh, and the food? Canned or dried only. Nothing perishable.

Some useful tools

And while we are talking about canned food, make sure you have a working, manual can opener. Other tools may also be invaluable. People drown in attics because they have no way of breaking through the roof. An ax and a crowbar might come in handy. You never know when you might need a good tool.

Keep in touch

If you decide not to stay, let friends and neighbors, as well as emergency personnel, know that you are leaving and where you are going. Remember that stuff you are not able to live without? That goes in your go-bag.

We can be ready

Ready or not, natural disasters happen. They don’t exempt the visually impaired, but if we use our heads, we can be ready.

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