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Flood Safety for Those with Disabilities

By Michael Jacobs


Floods are the number-one cause of weather-related deaths. For those who have disabilities, safety is of particular concern. Having issues with mobility, learning, seeing, hearing, or other special needs creates extra challenges to keeping safe when disaster is imminent.

Disaster preparedness is something everyone needs to think about and plan for. Floods can happen in the blink of an eye, so you need to know your risk of flooding. Disabled people need as much advanced warning as possible so rescuers can reach them if necessary. If there is significant rain, stay tuned to local weather on radio or television to get the latest updates. The National Weather Service also regularly issues reports. You can get the latest information and alerts based on your zip code at http://www.noaa.gov.

During a flood or other disaster, FEMA the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regularly sets up disaster recovery centers. They provide all necessary assistance and devices for those with disabilities as do many local chapters of the Red Cross. Each agency also offers publications, information and assistance to those with disabilities and their families to utilize. Check out the website for each organization at http://www.fema.gov, and http://www.redcross.org.

Here are some tips to prepare for a flood for those with disabilities:

Planning & Preparation in Advance

Create a Support Network – Your support network can include family and friends, as well as city, local, county and state agencies that can lend assistance in cases of emergency. Have a minimum of three people that can be relied upon for help in an emergency situation. These individuals should be reliable and trustworthy and people who know your needs. Ideally, they should be able to get there within a matter of minutes to lend assistance in an emergency.

  • Assemble a Disaster Survival Kit – Put together a kit for being able to evacuate in case of floods. This should include all medications, extra clothing, toiletries and other day-to-day needs, a cellphone, or if possible one with an extra battery, a flashlight, a distress flag, non-perishable food items and any utensils that are needed, supplies for pets and bottled water. These items can be kept in a waterproof container and should be regularly inspected with expiration dates checked and replenished with fresh supplies as they are needed.