Friday, January 14, 2011

Being Disaster Prepared

I'd like to thank Leonie Hazelton for offering to write today's guest post about being disaster prepared, particularly if you have a disability.

Leonie Hazelton

Everyone who has commented on blogs such as the Sydney Morning Herald online, Twitter and everywhere else in the media says how devastating the floods in Queensland, Australia, are and how sorry they are for the people who are affected.

I empathise with these things, but it got me thinking, how would natural disasters or emergencies affect you if you had disability?

I know personally I’m worried about family up in Queensland with disability and I’m concerned about what would happen to them if they were told to evacuate. Would they be prepared? Where would/could they go and how would they get there? Also, what would happen to their dog?

I decided to consult my internet best friend, Google, and found this site by (appropriately) the QLD government discussing this thing called REDiPlan, sponsored by the 1st National Real Estate Foundation. It’s a booklet and a series of worksheets for people with disability and their associates about how to prepare for emergencies or natural disasters, and you can find it here.

I had a quick read before I posted and while all this stuff seems like common sense, as a community in general, we don’t like to think about this until after the event, and that’s a bit too late.

I found these tips useful in preparing for disasters and wondered about how personally I could implement these in my life.

Know Your Neighbours

Thankfully we’ve got great neighbours who have helped us out in disasters of our own. (Power outage) They’re organised and have good emergency readiness skills. (He’s a scout leader) And even though we don’t know the other neighbours as well, we know that we can call on them in an emergency situation.

Prepare a kit

This is where the organised bit comes in. Being a disorganised person, this could be where my disaster plan falls on its face. In the kit, it’s suggested you have things like water, canned/dry food, torches, globes and batteries, spare batteries and charges for your mobile and any other device you may use. E.g. hearing aids, wheelchairs etc. According to the info in the booklet, you should check your kit about every six months to a year. That’s also where it falls down for me as these sorts of things are the things I forget. You may want to put it in your phone so you remember.

Another good resource to use when thinking about what to put in a kit comes from here.

Be Informed

It seems obvious; but many of us don’t think to use “Old Fashioned” methods of communication like radios. We rely so heavily on things like the internet that we don’t think about other media. Another thing is that radios don’t necessarily require electricity. (Make sure you buy a battery powered one and spare batteries.) They’re as up-to-date as any website (if not more) and they’re not reliant on electricity or phone lines.

Follow Orders

We have all heard the coverage in the media from authorities saying that residents ignored warnings to evacuate. We love our bloggers very much and want them to continue to read our excellent posts, so please DO AS YOU’RE ASKED!!! If police, SES or other authorities ask you to evacuate, do so. If they ask you to stay, also please do so. (Make sure if you can ahead of time that you have your emergency kit ready.)


  1. Great post Leonie,

    I know this in no way compares to what the poor people in Queensland are currently facing, but a couple of weeks ago it was raining heavily in Melbourne and water was up to the gutters. I was at an unfamiliar street and when I dashed across the road with my brother I was aiming for what I thought to be the ramp near the curb. Unfortunately it wasn't, as the water was obscuring it. I ran almost full speed into a gutter!

    Luckily I didn't fall out of my wheelchair. My chair was stuck though, and my brother pulled it free before the lights changed.

    Anyway, if that can happen to me in a relatively normal day in Melbourne, I really hate to think what many disabled people are suffering now up in Queensland...

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