What is emergency preparedness?
The term refers to the steps you take to make sure you are safe before, during and after an emergency or natural disaster. These plans are important for your safety in both natural disasters and man-made disasters. Examples of natural disasters are floods, blizzards, tornadoes and earthquakes. Man-made disasters can include explosions, fires, chemical and biological attacks.
Since the events of September 11, 2001, and more recently, Hurricane Katrina, Americans are more aware of emergencies. According to a 2004 Harris Poll, 96 percent of Americans feel it is important to prepare for emergencies, but less than 20 percent describe themselves as totally prepared. Despite guidelines from government organizations and community based services like the American Red Cross, only 42 percent of Americans have created a personal emergency kit.
People with disabilities may be especially vulnerable during and after emergencies. In an emergency, many systems you rely on may not function as well as they usually do. Familiar landmarks and usual travel routes you and your service animal know may be altered. Utilities like electricity, water, gas and phone service may be disrupted. You might need to temporarily evacuate to a shelter which may not be fully accessible for your needs. The tips and strategies in this newsletter can help you plan to be prepared for these situations.