Disability in Emergencies

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There’s an old joke amongst fans of the classic sci-fi series Doctor Who that all you need to do to escape the Daleks is to run upstairs. The Doctor’s greatest enemies may have enough fire power to conquer the planet, but they’d need to install access ramps first! Of course the Daleks have come a long way since then and can now levitate up the stairs, but for the 21% of the UK population with some form of disability a little more planning is needed.

Here at CSW Resilience we’re all about being prepared, but we also know that a cookie-cutter approach doesn’t always work. We always encourage people to have their Grab Bag and Home Emergency Plan ready in case of an incident, but disability is a big factor in personal resilience that can often get overlooked. For example, think about smoke alarms – you can buy a great top of the range alarm and dutifully test it every Tuesday, but if you’re deaf or hard of hearing and can’t actually hear it going off then it’s not going to help you in a fire. Fortunately you can buy brilliant adapted smoke alarms with strobe lights and vibrating pagers (and your local fire service will help you fit it), but it’s a good example of how one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to resilience and disabilities.

The good news is that there are loads of resources out there to help disabled people and their carers plan ahead. For starters, you can contact your local fire service to arrange a Safe & Well visit of your home – they’ll come out and do a fire safety assessment with you and advise you on any adaptations you might need to keep safe. If your disability means you’re particularly reliant on your utilities (for example if you’re on dialysis or use breathing equipment) then you should definitely check out the Priority Services Register. By signing up you’re letting your utility providers know that if there’s an outage they should prioritise restoring your service over those more able to wait. They’ll also let you know of any planned downtime so you can be prepared – our favourite thing!

Don’t forget safety at work – Ask your employer to work with you on a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (also known as a PEEP) to make sure everyone knows exactly how you’ll get out of the building if the generic evacuation route doesn’t work for you.

Of course even with the best planning in the world the occasional emergency still happens. If you need 999 but can’t speak or hear on the telephone then why not text them? Register your phone at www.emergencysms.org.uk to get set up.

Remember – personal resilience is for everyone! Why not follow us on Twitter & Instagram @PreparedPics and join in the #DisabilityInEmergencies conversation.