It is important for individuals who are blind or have low vision to have a plan to ensure that a disaster does not impact their day to day care. Think about your daily activities and how a disaster will impact your life. Think about what you do independently and where you may need assistance. Keep in mind that your regular sources of information may not be available after a disaster. Plan now for how you will meet your needs. In Earthquakes, furniture can shift and decorations can fall making it difficult to navigate the room. Move more slowly and check for obstacles in the way. Consider shuffling your feet if there is a lot of debris on the ground.
- If you use a cane, keep extras in strategic, consistent and secured location at work, home, school, volunteer site, etc., to help you maneuver around obstacles and hazards.
- Keep a spare in your emergency kit.
Alternate mobility cues
- If you have some vision, place security lights in each room to light paths of travel. These lights plug into electric wall outlets and light up automatically if there is a loss of power. They will, depending on type, continue to operate automatically for 1 to 6 hours and can be turned off manual and used as a short-lasting flashlight.
- Store high-powered flashlights with wide beams and extra batteries.
- Plan for losing the auditory clues you usually rely on after a major disaster.
- Service animals may become confused, panicked, frightened or disoriented during and after a disaster. Keep them confined or securely leashed or harnessed. A leash/harness is an important item for managing a nervous or upset animal. Be prepared to use alternative ways to negotiate your environment.
- If helpful, mark emergency supplies with large print, fluorescent tape or braille.
- Anchor special equipment and large pieces of furniture, such as computers and shelving. Create a computer back-up system for important data and store it off site.
- Advocate that TV news not only post important phone numbers, but also announce them slowly and repeat them frequently for people who cannot read the screen.
Information provided by Independent Living Resource Center, San Francisco