If there is anything living in the south as taught me, it is be prepared in the event of a tornado or hurricane. When our home was hit by and F-3 after we were parents, I learned that all the storm preparation we were taught in school, was just not enough when you have a child in tow. Having special needs child or adult in your care; means you need to know a lot more than where is the nearest storm shelter and evacuation routes.
The time to be prepared is weeks before you need to seek shelter. The following list is a good idea for everyone in your home, with an extra emphasis designed as a check list for special needs individuals.
First, collect a copy of birth certificates, drivers license, insurance information and any ID’s that you need for work or other services. Make copies of each and place in a folder labeled with the individuals name on it. If anyone uses a prescription drug, consider having that prescription filled at a larger chain drug store so that no matter where you go, you can walk into that chain and have a replacement. If this is not possible, ask your physician to give you an undated prescription copy for your records. Keep this in the folder as well.
For special needs individuals, make and keep a current list of their needs, likes, dislikes, food allergies or intolerances. Have several copies so you can hand them out if you find yourself in a shelter. You will need to let the director of the shelter know you have a special situation and you may not have time to have a lengthy conversation with them. Also the kitchen staff in the shelter will be better able to help you find the safe foods for your child if they can hold a list in their hands. Remember that while autism and gfcf eating may seem common to you, there are still people out there that have never heard of either.
Get a plastic storage box large enough to hold your personal folder information, and a change of clothing. Place a change of clothing for each family member in a plastic bag, space bags will help save space. If you need diapers or adult incontinent products, add them in as well. Add a small portable purchased first aid kit or make your own. Hand sanitizer will help when you have no running water, and pack a box of baby wipes.
Place your folders of information in water tight plastic bags as well. If your child as a special toy or object they cannot function without, secure a copy of that object and pack in this box as well. In the event of a tornado, it may very well be the only copy left. Pack some shelf stable foods that meets your families needs, and a bottle of water for each person. Purchase a pay as you go cell phone and set it up, fully charge the battery, then turn it off. Place it in the box along with the charger in a water proof bag; it will come in handy if you have no other way to contact the outside world. Remember in the event of tornadoes all cell towers may be down for hours, but keep checking for emergency lines. Finally add in a roll of duct tape and a sharpie. If you are in a shelter, taking duct tape and writing information such as NONVERBAL on the tape and placing it on your child’s back can help when dealing with strangers. If you do have a nonverbal child, it is critical that you write their name on them and your name as well in the event you get separated. Keep this box near your exit or in the storm shelter were you will go during a tornado. If you don’t have a storm shelter and use a room in your home, place this box in that room.
When storms hit you may only need to seek shelter or you may find yourself homeless and starting over. Preparing now will help make the days and weeks of shelter living easier. Talk with your family about how to handle different situations that may arise. Plan out of town contact with family or friends and locations for meeting up if you are separated. You cannot stop a storm from coming, but you can talk and plan how you would handle such an event. Practice your plan. Check your box once a month and remove out of season clothing replacing with current needs. If your child’s needs change, make sure you up date that information in the box.
Life has many kinds of storms; the best way to handle each is being prepared. For natural disaster storms taking time to plan today can help you avoid the mental storm that comes when you are faced with the aftermath of a rage by Mother Nature.