You can never be too prepared for an emergency – especially now that the winter weather season is upon us. Part of being prepared is having a plan in place. Many of us are creatures of habit and rarely stray from our regular routines. If this sounds like you, take some time to prepare for the things you wouldn’t usually think about, such as alternative transportation in case your primary mode is unavailable, alternative routes to and from your home, and learning where the exits are whenever you are in a new location like a shopping mall, movie theater, or restaurant.
It’s also important to include communication in your planning. During an emergency your normal way of communicating may be affected by changes in environment, noise, or even confusion. Know how and what you will need to communicate during an emergency. If you are hearing impaired practice communicating your needs through gestures, note cards, text messages, or other means. If a family member is blind or has poor vision, prepare to explain to others how to best guide them.
Describe your needs in short, meaningful phrases – you may not have much time to get your message across. Pre-written cards or text messages can readily help you share information during a stressful or uncomfortable situation.
Phrases may include:
- I have difficulty understanding what you are telling me
- Please speak slowly and use simple language
- I use a device to communicate
- I am deaf and use American Sign Language
- I speak [insert language]
Your cards should apply to all emergencies in and outside your home and be sure to keep them with you at all times. If you have difficulty creating cards, ask family, friends and caregivers for help.
Take the time now, before an emergency, to put a plan into place for the things you may not readily think about!