How to Prepare for a Hurricane as a Wheelchair User

While COVID-19 continues to be a problem for the United States, there’s another potential problem on the horizon with the incoming 2020 hurricane season. Experts agree that this year’s hurricane season is going to make a huge impact. According to Forbes.com, on average, the U.S. experiences approximately 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes (which are designated as category 3 or higher). This year, we expect to see at least 20 named storms, 9 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes.  With these predications, it’s a good idea to form your plan now. What do you do when a hurricane hits? Where do you go? If you have a disability or use a wheelchair, is there someone who can help you evacuate? Read on for some tips on how to prepare yourself in case the worse does happen.

Tips for Wheelchair Users During a Hurricane

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to create an emergency kit. Make sure your kit has all the basics, such as a flashlight, extra batteries, non-perishable food items, bottled water, at least two weeks’ worth of extra medication and other medical supplies you might need, such as extra catheters. If you lose power, determine how you can keep your medical devices charged. If you use a power wheelchair, it’s a good idea to have a lightweight wheelchair or manual wheelchair as a backup, in case you need to evacuate quickly. Be sure to have a list of emergency contact information with phone numbers, including your doctor, the nearest hospital or urgent care center and the number of your authorized Quantum® dealer, in case your wheelchair is damaged or lost.

Accessible Evacuation Routes for Wheelchair Users

If you need to evacuate your home because of flooding or other damage, it’s important to have several accessible ways of exiting your home, especially if you use a power wheelchair. If the elevator is not working in your apartment building, are there accessible ramps available to you? Speak to the manager of your building regarding ways you can exit the building safely.

If the mayor or governor of your state declares that all individuals must evacuate your town or city, it’s important to have transportation that is accessible. Many cities and counties offer wheelchair emergency transportation. It’s important to develop a plan BEFORE a hurricane happens. Contact your local fire department, public transportation or paratransit service regarding your options.

Disaster Planning for Elderly and Disabled Individuals

Once you have your emergency kit ready, create a support network you can rely on during emergency situations, including a hurricane. A support network, sometimes called a self-help team, consists of several individuals who can check on you during an emergency and give you assistance if you need it. A support network can include relatives, friends, a personal care attendant or caregiver. Once you have chosen the individuals for your support network, exchange important information with them, such as where you keep your emergency kit, relevant documents, including copies of evacuation plans and health care information. Rely on each other and stay in contact.

While we hope you never have to use your emergency kit or rely on your support network, it’s important to be prepared in case a hurricane does hit where you live.

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