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Emergency Preparedness for Special Needs Children

What to have in place before a crisis


April 2014

If your autistic child is starting a new school, is it enough to review social stories? If your child is blind, is it sufficient to inform your neighbor of his disability? These are good strategies for keeping life's pace steady for problems that can be anticipated, but they are not enough to handle unforeseen events. Families with kids who have Special Needs should prepare for life's unexpected events, as should all families. Tornados, earthquakes, fires, school disturbances all happen. Here are a few ways to prepare:

Download the Emergency Information Form for Children with Special Needs. This form by the American Academy of Pediatrics and American College of Emergency Physicians helps ensure prompt and appropriate care for children with special needs. The form helps provide a concise summary of a child's complicated medical history for ERs or health professionals. Find it at http://www.acep.org.

Contact the fire department. Call the fire department for a hazards request form or send them one online at www.indy.gov. If 911 is called, this form alerts firefighters of any special needs someone in your family has. Captain Rita Reith of the Indianapolis Fire Department says this information is only good for about six months, so update the information regularly.

Assess your family's needs. Make a list of the things each member of your family needs to survive. Food, water, clothes, medications, medical equipment and other essentials go on the list.

Pack an emergency kit. Jennifer Akers, project coordinator with Family Voices, tells families to make an emergency supplies kit. She says to gather and store supplies in advance so your family can more readily handle an evacuation or home confinement. Purchase and gather necessary items over a period of weeks or months and be sure to recycle water, food and other perishable items from your kit every few months.

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Tags: In This Issue, Special Needs

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