Monday, October 5, 2009

Prepping If You Are Disabled

Most people assume preppers and survivalist are Rambo types with lots of cool gear and a more than reasonable amount of physical prowess for handling any type of situation that comes along. Since EVERYONE needs to be prepared for disaster, that stereotype leaves out a goodly portion of the population who are disable in one fashion or another. Note that disabled doesn't just mean someone in a wheel chair. Disabilities can run the gamut from being morbidly obese to missing limbs to having severe chronic health conditions to not being able to understand English (and therefore not being able to understand orders to evacuate, etc) to being elderly to having limited mobility to having an acute fear of large groups of people (which would make living in a shelter tricky) to having schizophrenia... You can see that the range and number of disabilities is quite long but the idea is that no matter your condition, you or your keeper (ie: the person charged with caring for people with these and other disabilities) needs to take some additional things into consideration in order to be prepared for disaster, including:
  • What MUST you have to survive apart from the food, water, shelter stuff? For someone on a ventilator, that would be electricity. For someone with severe psychotic episodes, that may mean medication. Make these items your top preparedness priorities.
  • If you rely on medication, consider getting prescriptions for 90 days instead of 30 days. Also ask your doctor or pharmacist what their plan is to ensure that you will still be able to get your needed medications after a disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake.
  • Plan with someone who can help you. This may be a family member, friend, neighbor, home health nurse, etc. If you are disabled, start planning now with someone who would be able to help you in the event of a disaster. How will you let them know if you need help? What if the phones are out, will they come to your house to check on you? If you don't speak English, do you have a neighbor who can translate for you or do you have picture books of signs that can help tell emergency responders what you need? If you are elderly or infirm, does someone else have a key to your home so they don't have to break a window to check on you?
  • Stockpile the things you need that others may not have and therefore would not be able to provide you in the event of a disaster. Depends? Hearing aid batteries? Specialized medical supplies? If it isn't something that one could usually just borrow from a neighbor, plan on stocking much more of the item than usual.
  • If you are replacing a fairly spendy specialized item, consider saving the old one in case the new one gets broken in a disaster. Dentures, hearing aids, wheel chairs, prosthetic limbs, glasses...even though these items may not fit like they used to after you get used to your new item, in a disaster these items would be difficult to replace immediately and would come in handy.
  • Be in the best physical shape possible. If you are obese, start working out and going on a diet NOW when it will be most beneficial for you. If you are in a wheel chair, there is no reason not to have exceptional upper body strength developed by working out. If you are elderly, exercise can do wonders to not only reduce your risk of falls on a normal day but will make you stronger and better able to help yourself during a disaster.
  • Keep a list of your current medications and a copy of the most recent prescriptions in your BOB. Include physician contact numbers, contact info for next of kin, and a current medical history too.
  • If you have a spare wheelchair, walker, or crutches, keep the spare in the garage or in an out building. During an earthquake, for example, your wheelchair may end up crushed but if you have a spare one in the outbuilding which suffered less damage, you may be able to use that one.
  • Evacuate WAY ahead of time. If an evacuation is imminent, don't wait until the last minute, get to a safe spot as quickly as possible. Which would be better? Picking up grandma and safely ensconcing her in a nice hotel for a few days when it looks like a hurricane is heading her way or being stuck with a senile and incontinent grandma in the family mini van as you wait in a 10 mile long back up on the freeway with everyone else trying to evacuate at the same time?
The bottom line is that there is no guarantee that anyone will come around to help you right after a disaster, thus the need for preparedness. For those with no disabilities, this would be a difficult time, however for those who rely on others (or assistive devices or medication or other necessary things) it will make the situation many times worse. For those with disabilities and/or those who care for people with disabilities, the need to prepare thoroughly and immediately can not be overstated.


  1. Just a thought on prescriptions...many insurance plans will not refill a script until you have 3 days worth of pills or less, left. You can have your doctor write you a separate script, and fill it paying cash, but this can be a SERIOUS financial outlay for some people on many meds. Or for people who change meds often, then you end up disposing of medacine you never used, and buying more for more $$$.

  2. That's an important point. Some prescriptions can be filled for $4 at Walmart these days but there are others that can cost hundreds of dollars per month to fill. I'm hoping that insurance companies will start taking preparedness seriously and realize how important it is for people to be able to have an adequate supply of meds on hand.

  3. Nice post. My wife has a mobility disability and we try to stay a few mental 'steps' ahead of whatever we happen to be doing a given time. With any sort of disability I think you have to elimiate as many surprise situations as possible. Its hard to do but considering the alternative, its worth it.