Emergency Preparedness

Emergency preparedness and planning is essential for all members in communities, including community members with a disability. Emergencies strike quickly and without warning. It is important for us to be united as a community to prepare for such emergencies. Taking an active role in emergency preparedness will bring peace of mind for you and your loved ones in the event of a natural disaster or other unexpected emergency.

Making an emergency plan

A lot goes into making an emergency plan, and there are a lot of considerations. We can help. See below for tips and links to help you get started in preparing an emergency plan that will help protect you and your loved ones.

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Service provider plans

All service providers contracted with DSPD are required to have a Continuity and Disaster Preparedness Plan. Disasters present unique challenges, especially for individuals with disabilities. Creating a workable disaster plan to coordinate the safety of many can be difficult.

Winter preparedness

In Utah, winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. These storms are often accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain. Of primary concern is winter weather’s ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home, sometimes for days at a time. It is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.

Important winter emergency preparation tips

  • Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep your fuel lines from freezing.
  • Always have an emergency kit in your trunk, add warm clothing and extra blankets in addition to food, water, medical supplies, and car essentials.
  • Keep sand, rock salt, or non-clumping kitty litter to make icy walkways or steps less dangerous.

Summer preparedness

Utah summers are very hot and very dry. In extreme heat, the body must work much harder to maintain a normal temperature. Most heat disorders occur due to overexposure to heat. Poor air quality, increased heat retained by asphalt and concrete, place urban areas at more risk of a prolonged heat wave than those living in rural areas.

Important summer emergency preparation tips

  • Ensure you have adequate water for three days in your 72-hour kit.
  • Have contingency plans for seeking cooler temperatures in case of a power outage.
  • Learn how to treat heat-related illness by enrolling in a first aid course.

Emergency responders

During an emergency, people with a disability may require assistance. Some physical disabilities may be obvious while others, such as mental illness or intellectual disabilities, may not. Every person and every disability is unique. Respecting people with disabilities and treating them with dignity must be conscious goal while responding to emergencies. The ability to do so, requires planning and training on the part of both emergency responders as well as individuals and their families.

Tips for individuals and families

  • Create and maintain a 72-hour kit.
  • Make a plan for how you and your family will respond to different emergencies and be re-unified (including home fire evacuation, earthquake safety, etc...).
  • Create a personal support network. Identify people at home, school, in the workplace or other areas where you spend a lot of time who are informed of your capabilities and needs and can respond quickly in an emergency.
  • Learn about Community Disaster Plans. Contact DSPD or local American Red Cross Chapter to learn about emergency plans and procedures that exist to help you.
  • Have a contingency plan in place for medical equipment and other adaptive equipment Know how to access back-up power for essential medical equipment, have manual adaptive equipment available if needed, consider how you will alert others for assistance in an emergency.

It is also a good idea to register with the Utah Special Needs Registry. This allows residents with access and functional needs to provide information to emergency response agencies before an emergency occurs so they can better plan to serve them in a disaster.

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Tips for emergency responders

  • Be aware that many disabilities are not obvious.
  • Be quick to identify yourself, saying your name and explaining clearly what your job is and the situation.
  • Remember to treat the person with the dignity of an equal and as an adult by speaking directly to the person.
  • Give extra time for the person to process what you are saying.
  • Communicate using short sentences and simple concrete words and ideas.