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Emergency Preparedness When Your Child Has a Disability

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Times like these remind us an emergency preparedness plan is important for families.

It currently appears that Hurricane Laura is unlikely to have a significant impact on Mississippi. Our thoughts are with those in Louisiana and Texas who are more likely to be affected.

The approach of Laura is a reminder of the importance of being prepared for hurricanes and other disasters. We encourage families to use this time to make your family’s disaster readiness plan and include your child in the process.

Being prepared for disasters is hard. Being prepared for disasters when you have a child with a disability is even harder. Being prepared for disasters when you have a child with a disability in the middle of a global pandemic can seem impossible.

We are not proposing magical solutions or easy answers, but we do want to share some resources that we think are helpful. This article, Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs in Emergencies, from the Centers for Disease Control, has practical information and also links to several other good resources at the end. We don’t always think about mental health challenges as being a special healthcare need, but they are.

Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and other Special Needs, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross has detailed information as well, as does the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency’s page on disaster preparedness for people with disabilities. The Mississippi Coronavirus Hotline can be reached 7 days a week, 7 a.m.–7 p.m. at 877-978-6453 if you have questions about COVID and planning for emergencies.

We strongly encourage you to always follow the direction of public safety officials regarding evacuation. When evacuation is not mandated, it can sometimes be helpful to shelter in place if your child has mental health challenges. This tip sheet from the American Public Health Association gives guidance on sheltering in place.

[Photo by Bernard Schmidt on Unsplash]

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