Your Healthy Family

Sep 26, 2012 10:19 AM by Marissa Torres

Emergency Preparedness for people with disabilities

There's no easy way to prepare for a natural disaster. As we saw with the Waldo Canyon Fire, things can change in an instant. It's especially difficult to keep up when you live with a permanent disability.
For that reason, a Colorado Springs agency is making sure everyone is ready.
That includes people like Geraldine Webb, a client at The Independence Center in Colorado Springs. Even though she was fortunate to keep her home, the memory of how fast the flames spread spook her to this day.

"It was just a lot of anxious time; about what to do, who to call, where to go, if I should get ready to leave."

Questions that were a little bit trickier to answer since Webb is wheelchair bound.

"I had a few calls from friends, they were willing to come pick me up, but they couldn't help me with the electric wheelchair."

Instead, Webb says a few people with the utility company went to get her. But it was the same situation, they couldn't accdomate the wheelechair. Webb says she then had to wait longer for a new crews to come out with a van. Everyone made it out safe, but in an emergency situation, time is of the essence, and it's the "what-if" scanario that has Webb and others concerned.

"I think the waldo canyon fire helped us see that a lot of us didn't know what to do when we go that call," says Amanda Lunday, with The Independence Center. "For our consumer especially, there are extra considerations they need to think of because of their disabilities."

Lunday says a handful of deaf clients also had severe issues. She told us one story about a deaf man who stepped out of his home to see what was going on, only to learn everyone had already evacuated.

ALl this prompted The Independence Center to put together a bookless, full of phone numbers, tips, and a variety of "how-to" guidelines depending on one's disability. Workers say you should always a bag packed, extra copies of important documents; including social security card and birth certificate. Most importantly, Lunday says to set up a buddy system with neighbors.



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