Emergency Preparedness

(Editor's Note: While these tips are helpful in case of emergency, if you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.)

Recent events have taught all of us to be mindful of potential emergencies, and neither age nor vision problems should prevent you from preparing yourself. If you don't know who to contact in your community regarding emergency preparedness, start with your local fire department. It is usually integral to a community's disaster preparation and response and will know where to direct you.

In the meantime, here is what you can do to prepare:

  • Compile an emergency kit; include a three-day supply of nonperishable food and water, a flashlight with live batteries, prescription medications, a first aid kit, hand-crank radio, extra batteries, important papers (home deed, insurance, etc.) and your low vision aids and appliances.
  • Know the locations of emergency exits.
  • Learn about transportation systems and routes that are different from the ones you usually use.
  • Prepare a list of emergency contacts and numbers.
  • Practice emergency evacuation plans.
  • Develop a buddy system and contacts with individuals and agencies both local (such as the local fire house or Red Cross affiliate) and out of state.
  • Make sure that contacts outside your area are aware of your emergency plans.

If you have a service animal or pet, you should develop a plan for it as well. Emergency Preparedness for your Service Animal or Pet, compiled by the American Council of the Blind, provides a comprehensive checklist and helpful information.

If you're interested in becoming involved with emergency preparedness plans in your community, you can contact local authorities and vision loss agencies about developing emergency response systems (including transportation) for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

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