Disaster Preparedness Lags for Disabled, Those with Chronic Illness

According to a new study by researchers from the Department of Public Health at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., people who are disabled or suffer from chronic diseases were less likely to be prepared for a natural disaster than those who did not have health issues.

Often, people suffering from disabilities do not evacuate when facing a tropical storm or hurricane and are homebound when blizzards strike, so it is important that their emergency preparedness kit contain battery-powered radios, supplies of water and non-perishable foods and medications.

The lead author of the study, Jeffrey Bethel Ph.D., said responses were tabulated from more than 37,000 participants from Delaware, Louisiana, Nevada, Tennessee, Georgia and Montana. He said they found that approximately 40 percent of all households had at least four emergency preparedness items, such as a 3-day supply of water or a flashlight with extra batteries.

People in poor health or who are suffering from disabilities are less likely to have most of the items in the emergency preparedness kit, but they were more likely to have supplies of medication on hand, according to the study, which will be published in the February issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The American Red Cross suggests at a minimum, have the basic supplies listed below. Keep supplies in an easy­-to-­carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you in case you must evacuate.

  • Water – 1 gallon per person, per day (3-­day supply for evacuation, 2-­week supply for home)
  • Food – non­perishable, easy-­to-­prepare items (3­-day supply for evacuation, 2­-week supply for home)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery­-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7-­day supply) and medical items
  • Multi­purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area

Consider the needs of all family members and pets and add supplies to your kit. Suggested items to help meet additional needs are:

  • Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Games and activities for children
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Two­-way radios
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Manual can opener
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