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Fail to plan? Plan to fail. Failure is costly during emergencies. At its most basic level, being prepared means having a solid plan and access to the resources necessary to execute that plan. It’s also about peace of mind. Because when communities, families, and individuals are prepared, the fear, anxiety and loss that accompany a disaster are greatly reduced. READYColorado encourages every person to develop a plan for responding to disasters and to have well-stocked emergency kits at home, in the car and at work.
One of the most important steps you can take in preparing for an emergency is to develop a household disaster plan.
This checklist provides information to help your family plan for the fact that they may not be together when disaster strikes. The Family Communications Plan helps you to detail how you will contact one another and review what you will do in different emergency situations. This checklist has important information about each family member (such as Social Security Numbers and important medical information). Communications Cards can be completed and carried by each family member so that they have easy access to important contact information, wherever they may be.
This checklist will help you to learn about community-specific risk information, a household evacuation plan, and how and when to shut off water, gas and electricity. In addition, this plan will help you to identify important documents that should be in your disaster preparedness kit, such insurance policies for home, life, and health.
Making a plan for household pets and livestock is an important part of disaster planning. Each type of disaster requires different strategies for keeping pets and animals safe. Get the best strategies by selecting the plans on the right about helping pets and livestock during emergencies.
More resources about planning for animals:
If you need to leave quickly in the event of a disaster, having important documents, or copies of documents, in your READY kit will make recovery easier.
Information/documents you’ll want to include in your kit:
Put documents in a portable, fire-resistant, waterproof box that you keep nearby at all times. You might also want to keep irreplaceable keepsakes and photographs in this box. Consider sending copies of vital records to an out-of-town friend or relative. Maintain a written and photographic inventory of your possessions (property interior and exterior, vehicles, contents of garage, closets and attic), including model and serial numbers, so you can estimate the value of your property for insurance or tax purposes if it is damaged or destroyed.“Financial Planning: A Guide for Disaster Preparedness” is a website for citizens that has been developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the AICPA Foundation, the American Red Cross and the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE).
Visit the Red Cross website to access key information about financial recovery issues.
Working with neighbors can save lives and property. Meet with your neighbors to plan how the neighborhood can work together after a disaster until help arrives.
Join your Neighborhood or Homeowner’s Association or Crime Watch Group and introduce disaster preparedness as a new activity. Know your neighbors’ special skills (for example—medical, technical) and think about how you might help neighbors who have special needs, such as disabled and elderly persons. Make plans for child care in case parents can’t get home.
Citizen Corps provides a way for citizens to become involved as volunteers to support local emergency responders, disaster relief and community safety. Find out if there is a Citizen Corps Regional Council in your area, and contact them to get involved.
Plan to hold a Neighborhood Watch meeting. Your local Sheriff’s office or Police Station can help you get started or visit the Neighborhood Watch Program website for more information.
Although every school has unique needs, there are a number of common steps that can be taken to ensure that schools are READY for natural or human-caused disasters.
Parents and school staff should check with administrators to find out more about their school’s emergency plan. If a plan isn’t in place, discuss ways that the school can begin the process of risk assessment and planning. Perhaps a special committee comprised of school staff, parents, and students can be formed to begin the planning process.
There are a number of resources available to assist schools in preparing for disaster. The Colorado School Safety Resource Center (CSSRC) is an excellent source of information regarding school preparedness. The CSSRC was created by the State legislature in 2008 through Senate Bill 08-001 (C.R.S. Section 24-33.5-1801, et seq.). It provides free consultation, resources, training, and technical assistance to foster safe and secure learning environments, positive school climates, and early intervention to prevent crisis situations. The CSSRC supports schools and local agencies in their efforts to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies and crisis situations. Information and resources from the CSSRC are available to all schools, school officials, and community partners throughout the State of Colorado.
The U.S. Department of Education also has many resources related to emergency planning for schools. Their Action Guide for Emergency Management At Institutions of Higher Education is one on many resources that can be found on their website. It is an excellent resource for the development of emergency response plans for schools.Two new school preparedness guides have recently been published by the Federal government, one for K-12 and one for higher education. These guides, published in June 2013, align and build upon years of emergency planning work by the Federal government and are a joint product of Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Education (ED) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on this critical topic. The guides are customized to each community, incorporate lessons learned from recent incidents, and respond to the needs and concerns voiced by stakeholders following the recent shootings in Newtown and Oak Creek and the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma. Schools and institutions of higher education can use these guides to create new plans as well as to revise and update existing plans and align their emergency planning practices with those at the national, state, and local levels.
Guide for Developing High Quality School Emergency Operations Plans
Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Institutions of Higher Education
One of the first steps that businesses can take to be READY is to conduct a risk assessment. Know what kinds of emergencies might affect your business, both internally and externally. Find out which natural disasters are most common in your area, and learn more about what do do during a biological, chemical, explosive, nuclear or radiological attack. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website, READY.gov, outlines common sense measures that business owners and managers can take to start getting READY. It provides practical steps and easy-to-use templates to help you plan for your company’s future.
In addition to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s resources, The Red Cross also provides excellent planning tools for businesses through their Ready Rating program.The Ready Rating program is designed to help businesses, organizations and schools become better prepared for emergencies. Members join this free, self-paced program and complete a 123-point self-assessment of your level of preparedness to reveal areas for improvement.
In addition to supplies needed for a general disaster kit, you may need to add several things to the kit for your child with special needs.
A copy of your child’s up to date care plan including emergency contacts current medical information and records stored on a CD, flash drive, or phone app (keep one paper copy in a waterproof bag). Extra contact lenses, glasses, and lens supplies. Batteries for hearing aids and communication devices.
The first step in creating an emergency plan that works for your family is to sit down and talk with your family about different types of emergencies, what everyone can do to prepare for them, and to brainstorm together ideas of how to care for your child with special needs during an emergency. If children and the whole family are involved in the planning, everyone is more likely to take an active role. Emergency planning can be fun, and doesn’t have to be scary!
For people who have both vision and hearing loss, getting information about an emergency is critical. So is getting adequate access to services so you can deal with how an emergency affects you, and recover from it. Planning ahead is particularly important, so you can be prepared.
To be better prepared as a nation, we all must do our part to plan for disasters. Individuals with or without disabilities can lessen the impact of a disaster by taking steps to prepare before an event occurs. This information is designed to help people with mobility disabilities begin to plan for emergencies. The term “mobility disabilities” refers primarily to people with little or no use of their legs or arms. They generally use wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes, and other devices as aids to movement.
If you believe the weather or other hazard directly threatens you, leave your home or workplace. If officials order a mandatory evacuation, you must leave. Remaining in the face of a known hazard puts you in danger.
Don’t expect rescue at the height of an emergency ─ first responders cannot risk their own lives driving into a chemical cloud or against hurricane-force winds. Long before the evacuation order, set aside money and supplies. It’s tough to do on a tight budget, but your life is at stake.
For a person with a mobility disability, no disaster is more frequent or deadly than fire. Contact your fire department for help in evacuation planning, but make sure the advice fits your needs. Besides heeding the usual advice about fire safety at home, such as buying and maintaining smoke alarms and fire extinguishers, follow these tips:
The tragedy of September 11, 2001, focused the attention of people with disabilities on the potential for fire in skyscrapers and the challenges of evacuation. However, the threat is just as real when the fire alarm rings and the elevators stop in a smaller multi-story building. Evacuation plans must be in place for small and large multi-story buildings.
Several companies make products to facilitate the evacuation of wheelchair users or others with severe mobility disabilities. The most common are lightweight chairs used to carry a person down a stairway. A man with quadriplegia safely evacuated the World Trade Center using such a device with the help of several co-workers. If your building has not purchased evacuation devices, take responsibility to educate the facility’s manager. Use of these devices requires training and cannot be left for the last minute. Finally, an evacuation device is not a substitute for a wheelchair, so plan how to get along if you must abandon your wheelchair. Evacuation devices are not universally accepted by all fire service and emergency management leaders. There is still a need to raise the awareness of emergency professionals about the benefits of these devices.
Many fire chiefs support the concept of an area of refuge, a temporary shelter-in-place area in an office or public building. The area can be as simple as a stairwell, where wheelchair users and others gather to await rescue. Many modern buildings include a refuge area protected by flame retardants and equipped with two-way communication. Since September 11th, many people with disabilities have expressed reluctance to depend on areas of refuge, preferring to evacuate with everyone else. This may not always be possible, so learn the location of your building’s designated refuge areas.
If you are home when a sudden disaster occurs, you may take shelter there, where all is familiar and resources are close. It is important to keep a battery-operated radio or TV with you so that you can listen and follow directions from officials about steps to take. Contact members of your emergency support network and keep them informed of your actions and any changes in your condition.
Unless you have other severe disabilities, you should have little difficulty as a person with a mobility disability staying in a public shelter for a short time. Conditions in a shelter (usually a school building or an auditorium) are crowded, noisy, and boring. But these facilities can save your life. Wheelchair and scooter users may need assistance in transferring to and from a sleeping cot. People who use walkers or crutches might require aid navigating through a tightly-packed shelter. Staff in a general public shelter can assist you with these tasks, but they cannot perform more complex medical procedures or help you with other activities of daily living.
People with mobility disabilities may want to pack:
A personal support network can help you prepare for and respond in a disaster. They can do this by helping you identify and get the resources you need to cope effectively with a disaster. Your network can help you practice vital activities, like evaluating your home or workplace and putting together a 72 hour emergency kit. Network members can also assist you after a disaster happens. You should put together your network before a disaster and talk to each member about your individual needs. Here are some ideas to consider when creating your own personalized support network:
Know what’s going on in your area! To best stay informed before, during and after a disaster, you are encouraged to monitor a number of information sources.
Volunteers are the backbone of Colorado’s preparedness plan, so step up and help.
Learn new skills to assist others during a disaster. Help others impacted by disasters by donating money to - helpcoloradonow.org or your favorite charity.