Planning for Emergencies
When an emergency or natural disaster strikes, it is important for everyone, especially for people living with ALS to be prepared. It may seem like a lot of work, but if you do a little at a time you will ensure that you are ready for anything and will feel more confident that you can protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of a disaster.
Planning for Emergencies
Step 1: Be Prepared
- Consider what emergency situations may take place in Oregon and Washington state and create a personalized disaster plan.
- Create a plan with the Red Cross Emergency Plan Document in English or Spanish.
- Sign up for emergency notifications and alerts through the state of Oregon, Washington and through FEMA.
Step 2: Make a Plan
- Complete a personal assessment and create a personal support network of those who could assist in the event of an emergency (friends, family, relatives, neighbors, roommates, co-workers, etc.). Read more about how to build a support network on the American Red Cross website.
- Emergency information list: Identify who you will need to call in the event of an emergency or disaster.
- The Medical information packet can help you identify who your emergency contacts will be.
- Make sure to have at least 7 days of medication on hand.
- Download the Key Medical Information Mobile app, which provides medical personnel critical information to care for a person with ALS during an emergency.
- Smoke alarms should be on each level of home and tested once per month.
- Know where utility cutoff valves are and how to disconnect them.
- Consider registering your name with local utility companies so that they are aware of medical needs.
- Oregon State Utilities: https://www.oregon.gov/energy/energy-oregon/Pages/Oregon-Utilities.aspx
- Washington State Utilities: https://www.utc.wa.gov/
- Contact the fire department and report to them that a person with ALS lives in the home.
- Make an evacuation route: Have a plan for how to get out of your home during an evacuation/fire/emergency, and other disasters.
- Consider researching and having contact information for local independent living centers and/or disability service organizations that are easy to access and are safe.
- Plan ahead for accessible transportation in case of a disaster/emergency.
- Consider having multiple backup destinations to have options in an emergency.
- Show others how to operate your wheelchair or have a lightweight manual or transport wheelchair as a backup.
- Store emergency supplies in a backpack attached to wheelchair.
- Purchase an extra battery for your power wheelchair and make sure it is charged at all times.
- If leaving in a wheelchair is not possible, consider purchasing Evacu-Aide Tarp/Stretcher, ADAPTS (portable sling), and/or an Evacu-Trac Emergency Evacuation Chair.
- Create a disaster supply kit and keep it in your home and anywhere else where you may spend time. Include items such as food, water, first aid kit, adaptive equipment, batteries, supplies for your pets and for your individual needs, flashlights, etc. (extended lists can be found on your local utility company website).
- Create a “go bag” and keep the kit in your home, car workplace, or anywhere you spend time. Include the following:
- Medical information packet that includes your specific medical needs, lists of medications and copies of insurance card and/or a health information card in wallet or car.
- Communication tools- Pre-printed communication board/alphabet board, communication devices, call bell or wireless doorbell, paper and pen, boogie board, emergency health plan that explains the best communication method for you.
- Liquid nutrition/feeding tube supplies (as needed).
- Glasses, cash/checks.
- Important family documents (insurance policies, copy of advance directive, POLST, identification and bank account records in a waterproof container.
- Backup batteries/alternative power sources for AVAPS/BiPap and/or speech generating devices if you have these items.
- Store a manual resuscitator (ambu) bag in your go bag.
Step 3: Be Informed
The websites below have useful emergency preparedness information:
- Take Five to Survive: https://www.take5tosurvive.com/
- Ready: https://www.ready.gov/
- Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and other Special Needs: https://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/pfd_all.pdf
- The American Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies.html
- Preparedness Tools for Oregonians: https://www.oregon.gov/oem/hazardsprep/pages/individual-preparedness.aspx
- Washington State Department of Health: https://doh.wa.gov/emergencies/be-prepared-be-safe