Emergency planning is important for all families, but it’s an even more crucial step for families who have children with special needs. Many children with special needs often have trouble communicating and coping with stressful situations; however, with the proper preparedness, you can lessen the chance of something going wrong. Here are a few steps that can help your family and your child with special needs be prepared during an emergency.
- Be Informed – Find out what types of resources are available for your family in a disaster, and especially for your child with special needs.
- ID Bracelet – If your child has problems understanding or communicating with others, consider giving him or her an ID bracelet with information about his/her condition and limitations. That way, if you’re ever separated from your child, you can ensure that first responders will know how to interact with your child, how to administer care, and how to prevent any further harm.
- Develop a Family Plan – Develop a plan for the whole family. Discuss the steps you will take and write them down. Determine a place to meet and a way to keep in contact, assuming that power is out. Make a separate preparedness list for your child with special needs and make sure the whole family knows what to do for themselves and for him/her in case of a disaster.
- Plan Escape Routes From House – Plan an escape route from the house, in case entrances and exits are blocked. Consider the case of flooding. Make a plan that considers your child’s special needs. This plan should consider your child’s level of mobility and ability to function during a stressful situation. For instance, if there is a flood or a fire and your child is in a wheelchair or walks very slowly, what will your plan be to ensure your child is able to get out quickly? If your child typically “shuts down” or has meltdowns during high-stress times, what can you do to lessen the probability that this will occur?
- Electric Devices – If your child with special needs requires electricity for a wheel chair, an oxygen tank or other assistive devices, make sure you have a battery powered charger or extra batteries on hand that will last at least a few weeks.
- Designate a Contact Out of Town – Designate a contact who lives out of town, and whose home you can stay in with your family in the event of an emergency. Make sure that person has whatever your child with disabilities may need in the case of a disaster. With online ordering and shipping available, you can easily have things shipped to that person’s house. Even if it costs extra money, it’s worth it!