Mobility Concerns

wheelchairIt is important for individuals who need special equipment or help with mobility 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. During earthquakes, furniture can shift and decorations can fall making it difficult to navigate the room.

Storage

  • Store emergency supplies in a pack or backpack attached to a walker, wheelchair or scooter.
  • Store needed mobility aids (canes, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs) close to you in a consistent, convenient and secured location. Keep extra aids in several locations, if possible.

Emergency supply kit

  • Keep a pair of heavy gloves in your supply kit to use while wheeling or making your way over glass or debris.
  • If you use a motorized wheelchair or scooter, consider having an extra battery available. A car battery can be substituted for a wheelchair battery, but this type of battery will not last as long as a wheelchair's deep-cycle battery. Check with your vendor to see if you will be able to charge batteries by either connecting jumper cables to a vehicle battery or by connecting batteries to a specific type of converter that plugs into your vehicle's cigarette lighter in the event of loss of electricity.
  • If your chair does not have puncture-proof tires, keep a patch kit or can of "seal-in-air" product to repair flat tires, or keep an extra supply of inner tubes.
  • Store a lightweight manual wheelchair, if available.
  • Make sure furniture is secured so that it doesn't block the pathways you normally travel.
  • If you spend time above the first floor of a building with an elevator, plan and practice using alternative methods of evacuation. If needed, enlist the help of your personal support network.
  • If you cannot use stairs, discuss lifting and carrying techniques that will work for you. There will be times when wheelchair users will have to leave their chairs behind in order to safely evacuate a structure.
  • Sometimes transporting someone down stairs is not a practical solution unless there are at least two or more strong people to control the chair. Therefore, it is very important to discuss the safest way to transport you if you need to be carried, and alert them to any areas of vulnerability. For example, the traditional "fire fighter's carry" may be hazardous for some people with respiratory weakness.
  • Be prepared to give brief instructions on the best ways to move you.

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Information provided by Independent Living Resource Center, San Francisco