September is recognized as “National Preparedness Month,” a time for families and communities to prepare for the possibility of disasters throughout the year.  Each week this month, we’ll be updating this page featuring a different emergency event with tips to help you be prepared!  And, for complete information along with tips on disaster planning and preparation, visit where you’ll find checklists, action plans and more. 


This Week’s Theme:  Safety for Seniors, those with Special Needs, & Pets.

It’s important to consider the safety of some of our community’s most vulnerable members and companions.


Safety Tips for Seniors and Adults with Disabilities
Persons with disabilities are three times more likely to experience abuse from strangers.  It’s difficult for most of us to think that there are people in our community that would even consider taking advantage of someone with a disability, but the sad fact is, there are.   According to the organization “Rise Services,” people with special needs are at greater risk of suffering physical or psychological abuse, as well as being taken advantage of financially, or even kidnapped.  So here are some helpful tips to follow:

  • Be prepared when entering unfamiliar places or situations.  This is especially important for those individuals who may have difficulty noticing things in their environment.  It may be difficult to quickly react to unexpected dangers.  Make sure you know where emergency exits are and other resources that may be able to quickly provide assistance.
  • Learn how to respond appropriately to strangers.  Keep a safe distance from someone you do not know until you can gauge the situation with the person.  Beware of persons asking for money or for personal information.
  • Everyone has the right to say NO to something he or she does not like.  If you are being treated poorly by someone in any way, walk away or GET HELP FROM ANOTHER COMMUNITY MEMBER.  If you are being bullied by a caregiver, tell someone or ask for help from someone in the community.
  • Remain calm.  How you respond to stress determines the outcome in challenging situations.
  • Create a support network of people you trust.  Consider giving a member of that support network a key to your house or apartment.
  • Make a plan for potential weather-related or other types of disasters, and plan ahead for accessible transportation that you could potentially need in order to evacuate.
  • For individuals with sensory disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, make sure your emergency plan includes handheld electronic devices that store movies or games.  Include spare chargers and headphones to filter out hearing distractions.  Sheets and twine to create a small instant tent to decrease visual stimulation are also helpful, this also provides privacy and creates a safe space.
  • Make sure you have at least a week’s supply of personal medications, eyeglasses, hearing aids and batteries prepared in case of an emergency as well as copies of Medicare or Medicaid cards or other insurance card and ID information.
  • If you have a communication disability, make sure your emergency information states the best way to communicate with you.
  • If your daily routine includes special equipment that assists you with a disability, plan out how you would evacuate your home if you were unable to bring those devices with you.
  • If you have a vision or hearing disability, keep laminated cards with phrases.  Keep Braille or text communication cards, if used, for two-way communication.
  • A disaster can disrupt mail service.  If you are dependent on Social Security or other types of benefits, make arrangements to have those payments delivered electronically.  It also reduces the risk of stolen checks.

Safety for Pets

According to the American Humane Organization, there are several things you can do to keep your pet safe:

  • Don’t let your dog or pet ride in an open truck bed.  Open truck beds do not provide any protection from weather.  The hot sun can heat the metal truck bed and burn your pet’s paws.  A dog left sitting in the hot sun without water or shade could easily suffer a heat stroke before long.
  • Do not leash your pet inside the truck bed.  Many dogs have been strangled if accidentally bumped or tossed over the truck side.
  • If your dog or pet must ride in the back of a pickup truck, use a crate to keep them somewhat protected from the elements.
  • Check your pet’s collar regularly to ensure that it’s not too tight.  Collars do not expand by themselves and puppies and kittens can outgrow their collars very quickly, leaving the collar to cause constant, severe pain.  As a rule of thumb, you should be able to slip two or three fingers between the pet’s collar and their neck.
  • Keep a pet’s head and paws inside the car.  Dogs love to stick their heads out of open windows, but the wind can seriously irritate mucous membranes and blow debris into their eyes.
  • Supervise the toys that cats play with.  Keep all tinsel and string out of their reach.
  • Consider keeping your cat indoors.  Cats that stay inside stay healthier and live longer!  Outdoor cats can face threats from larger wild animals, ticks and fleas.  Cats can also be exposed to household chemicals or spoiled food.