Disasters When You Have a Disability

Just in the latter half of September, both Canada and the US have had to deal with hurricanes and the damage they can cause. Hurricane Fiona left most of Puerto Rico without power when she landed, and went on to cause power outages and damage on Canada’s East Coast, especially in Nova Scotia. Florida was hit hard just a few days after by Hurricane Ian.

People in areas that are frequently hit by storms are encouraged to have a safety plan and emergency supplies in place – stockpiled food, water, and medicine, flashlights and/or candles, first aid kits, batteries, and blankets. Safety plans and emergency supplies become more complicated when you have a disability.

More To Think About

If you have a disability, you have a lot to consider when developing an emergency plan:

  • With power cut off, will dependence on a lift, elevator, or stairlift isolate you from areas of your living space to which you need access? Will supports that you require (a C-PAP machine, ventilator, hospital bed, electric doors) be unavailable? How will you deal with this?
  • If you have sensory impairments, do you have a way of getting emergency notifications and other information that you’ll need to know?
  • If you do have a support kit put together, can you get to it easily if the lights go out? Will you be able to use it if you’re alone in the dark?
  • How will you deal with a flood or a fallen tree across your driveway? What if support staff like Personal Support Workers can’t get to you to assist you meet needs that you can’t meet by yourself?
  • If you have a support animal, what will you do if you need to go to a shelter and can’t take it with you?

These are things that people with disabilities have to think about, on top of the concerns that everyone has when they learn that a storm may hit their area.

Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone dealing with ongoing effects of recent storms.

Yellow sign says "Hurricane Season Ahead", laid against a map of the world.

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