Emergency Preparedness for the Visually Impaired
Last updated: March 2023
Are you a visually impaired person? Do you care for one?
Preparing for an emergency
Are you prepared for an emergency? For the additional preparations necessary if you need extra help? Could you make it out of your residence alone in the dark? What about stairs? Have you carried out a drill to discover what you should do in advance?
Two kinds of preparations are needed. One for if you have something happen to your living space. Another is for a general area-wide emergency.
Types of emergencies
What are the kinds of emergencies that may happen in your area?
A fire can happen anywhere, but a hurricane, flood, or even an earthquake are possibilities in some areas. Schoolchildren have earthquake drills where I live. We lost an entire small town in the province last summer to a wildfire. Another was devastated by flooding.
Where would you go, what would you do? How would you contact family? Do you have an out-of-area contact number memorized? Your family may only be across town, but what happens if you can’t reach each other? If you don’t know where they are? Do you keep your gas tank always at least half full?
Less serious emergencies
But for now, let’s focus on how we can prepare for something other than a mass disaster. Perhaps a major windstorm that knocks out power for a day or two. Or, as we’ve seen lately, dangerously high temperatures.
Where you are makes a difference
Whether you live in a single-family home, a multi-family apartment block, in the city, or far outside a well-serviced area, the preparations may be significantly different.
Which button in the elevator is the emergency help button? I’m only on the second floor and don’t generally use the elevator, but what would happen if I was stuck in it with no power? In the dark? I try to remember to keep my phone in my pocket, mostly for the flashlight. And I know I can turn it on with my eyes closed.
In case of a blackout
I have two small power banks to recharge my phone. One in the car and one in my purse. In the event of a prolonged power blackout, I can let family know I’m OK. A wind-up or solar-powered radio is also a good idea.
A power failure light that automatically turns on when the power goes out could light your way to safety.
A go bag
We all should have a “go bag” placed where we can access it quickly. It needs to be replenished regularly, with enough fresh water to last 72 hours, necessary medications, and some kind of food. Keep one in the front hall closet or one in the car.
How many times do we see people on the news after a fire wishing they had been able to reach something important on the way out. Just getting out is the main concern, but if your wallet is right there to stuff in a pocket on the way out, it could make a big difference.
Plan ahead, and practice your plan.
Accessible Media has a number of short videos giving ideas for emergency preparedness for those of us in the visually impaired community.
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