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The Importance of Safety and Preparedness

Forest wildfire at night a natural disaster

May marks Wildfire Awareness Month, a crucial reminder of the dangers posed by wildfires and the importance of preparedness, especially for people with disabilities and older adults. 

Understanding the Risks

Wildfires can be unpredictable and devastating, making it essential for everyone to have a well-thought-out emergency plan. Challenges such as mobility limitations, sensory impairments, and health maintenance during evacuations can significantly complicate emergency situations. Recognizing these challenges is the first step in crafting effective disaster response strategies.

Creating Accessible Preparedness Plans

Preparation is key to ensuring safety during wildfire season. Here are several strategies to consider:

  • Clear Communication Plans: Establish a communication plan that accommodates hearing, vision, or cognitive impairments. This might include having visual alerts for people who are hard of hearing or making sure that emergency information is available in large print or Braille.
  • Personalized Emergency Kits: Everyone’s needs are different, especially among those with disabilities. We encourage you to assemble emergency kits that address specific needs, such as medications, battery backups for medical devices, and supplies for service animals.
  • Evacuation Practice Drills: Regularly practicing evacuation routes and procedures can save lives. It’s crucial that these drills accommodate the various needs of those with disabilities to ensure everyone can exit safely and efficiently.

To support our community in these efforts, we offer a range of tools and resources, including workshops on emergency preparedness specifically designed for people with disabilities and their loved ones.

We also partner with emergency preparedness agencies throughout Northern Nevada to help make sure they’re considering the specific needs of people with disabilities in their planning. 

When these agencies have drills, it’s important that they include actual people with actual disabilities. If you’re interested in being part of this, let us know and we can introduce you. By volunteering, your time and input, you’re helping them understand what others with your disability need in an emergency. 

By working together, we can protect our community from the threats posed by wildfires and ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind during emergencies. 

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