Before Disaster Strikes

When Before Disaster Strikes Part 3 –Evacuation

14. Is your vehicle adequate to transport people, pets, luggage, AND medical equipment? If not, with whom can you make arrangements for shared transport?
15. Can all members of the household survive without heat or A/C, given their medical conditions? (For example, severe respiratory symptoms could occur in 100o heat/80% humidity or extreme cold for COPD or asthma patients, respectively.) If not, evacuation may be the best choice.
16. Think ahead about accommodations outside your local area. If applicable, call hotels and learn about availability of handicap-accessible rooms and equipment such as bath chairs, raised seats for toilets, etc. Record this info (and the date it was obtained) and keep it with your emergency papers so it is at the ready if needed. If advance warning of an event occurs, reserve your room(s) early, because most hotels have only a few handicap-accessible rooms.
17. A question for some real soul searching: Are you able to travel? Nobody wants to leave home or evacuate to a shelter. But if you must leave your home, are you realistically physically and medically able to travel outside your area, perhaps a great distance? If not, your best option may be a special-needs shelter with medical staff to assist you. Since not every shelter provides for special needs, you may want to contact your local emergency management agency for assistance in finding one or look at the resources provided at the end of this blog entry. Also, ask how you register with the local EMA as a person possibly in need of transportation should evacuation become necessary.
18. Neighboring states may open a shelter as was the case for Hurricane Irma. Find the zip codes for your chosen evacuation areas and add this information to your disaster plan file. These zip codes will help you in determining if a shelter in that area is available should the need arise.
19. Many will assume they can stay with friends or family. Let’s say Aunt Matilda offers a welcome into her 1930’s style house with two bedrooms, six entry-door steps, and tiny doorways. What is your plan to get your wheelchair-bound parent up the steps and into the bathroom? Will the house accommodate four adults, two teenagers, one child with a seizure disorder, and a service animal? Gratitude in the moment and a miserable time for all might well be replaced with a more suitable evacuation experience if some forethought is given.
20. Pets and service animals will require their own “luggage,” including, but not necessarily limited to, food, bowls, medications, leashes, collars/tags, service vests, documentation of vaccination, note of microchip numbers and provider phone numbers, contact information for veterinarian, crates, bedding, and toys. Pets, especially cats, may become very stressed by the change experience and need additional attention to their emotional needs and oversight to prevent their escape.
21. If you are receiving dialysis, home-health, or hospice services, ask about plans for patients who desire to evacuate. For example,
a. If I evacuate to City-State, with which provider can you arrange for me to receive services? If none, ask what options are available per the agency’s policy/procedures.
b. How long can treatments, etc., be safely interrupted if patient shelters in place?
c. What are the criteria by which the home health or hospice agency will no longer allow their personnel to visit patients, e.g., wind >50mpg, flooding.
d. Does the agency have a tentative plan/date for restoration of limited or full service?
22. Speak with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider for additional suggestions.

By no means is this an exhaustive list. Each individual has his or her own unique resources and needs, and this should be a starting point to begin examining yours. We want you to be best prepared to act in the best possible way if “that” day comes.

The following resources include much more extensive information regarding sheltering and how to make an emergency family plan. A short internet search will also yield resources in your specific city/county, so recruit a grandchild or neighbor’s kid if you need someone to search and print information from the Internet, but please–take a few minutes to plan ahead.