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It is important to have a well thought out plan ready for your child with special needs in the event you are faced with a sudden emergency or disaster. An emergency plan should address your child's specific needs, including medication, personal care, adaptive equipment, transportation and communication challenges. Emergency planning includes being prepared for both your child's medical emergencies as well as possible environmental disasters. Everyone in your home should know what to do in an emergency. How would you handle:
The Center for Infants and Children with Special Needs at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center provides information and resources to help families and health care professionals prepare for emergencies and disasters.
Environmental emergencies such as fires, storms, floods or other natural disasters present additional challenges. Suddenly, the basic services you depend upon for power, food, water, heat, cooling, transportation, communication and/or medical supplies may not be available. Everyone in your home should know what to do in an emergency, whether it's a power outage, fire or natural disaster, such as a flood or tornado. Prepare simple, one-page emergency instructions and update as things change. Include information about exits, fire extinguishers and power shut-offs. Place instructions where they can be easily seen and have everyone practice.
Make sure that your child's medicine and important equipment are easy to grab if you have to leave suddenly. In addition to your general first aid kit, you should have the special supplies you might need, stored safely in a waterproof bag or container:
Several options are available for child identification including wristbands, shoe tags and temporary tattoos:
Weather related disasters have brought attention to challenges and deficiencies in the ability of local communities to support its residents before, during and after events, especially for those with disabilities. Many communities have the resources but don’t anticipate the difficulties people have finding and accessing those resources. Large scale loss of power coupled with closed businesses can provide overwhelming challenges. While many children and adults may be medically stable they may not be able to plug in their equipment or charge their batteries and backup generators cannot be refueled as few gas stations remain open. Transporting patients requires gas and the ability to maneuver around fallen trees and debris. Running out of medications or supplies can be devastating as homecare companies, pharmacies, groceries and most hardware stores may be closed. Phones may not be working in many areas so families and their caregivers may have difficulty communicating. A committee of healthcare professionals, families, and community representatives should work together to identify anticipated needs and develop a comprehensive disaster response structure.
Communities need to be prepared:
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