AT for Emergencies


By Aimee Sterk, LLMSW, MATP Staff

There are many great guides on preparing for an emergency with a disability—having safe exit routes planned, stocking up on supplies, making plans for who to call/where to go should you need to evacuate. There are even suggestions for plans for people with disabilities who use assistive technology—how to access AT on the go, how to protect your AT, and back-up plans. How about a few AT devices to have on hand for dealing with the actual emergency?

The NOAA Weather Alert All Hazard Public Alert Certified Radio has all 7 NOAA channels, a 90 decibel emergency siren and voice message for people who are blind/low vision/doing things in other rooms and a visual flashing LED readout for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Its information comes from the national weather service, is programmed for your area (using SAME technology—Specific Area Message Encoding), and gives details on what type of emergency is headed your way—tornado, thunderstorm, civil emergency, or other hazards.  It has battery back-up and is trilingual (English, Spanish, French). This AT for emergencies could be used to give you as much notice as possible that severe weather or some other disaster is headed your way so that you can make plans accordingly. This is especially helpful for people with mobility disabilities who may need more time to move to a safer location. Pretty handy and useful for around $25.

Other handy AT for emergencies:

  • Communication boards that don’t need batteries or electricity as back up if you use augmentative communication devices.
  • Or, a pad of paper and writing utensil or whiteboard and markers to help you communicate if you are Deaf or have a communication/speech disability.
  • Back up medication organizers in sealed containers, sorted and ready.
  • A back up manual chair in case your powerchair can’t be charged or breaks.
  • Battery/USB chargers to charge your device through a car or alternate power source if your power goes out.
  • A corded, landline phone that is accessible to you in case cell phones or cordless phones do not work during a storm.
  • A cart or other carrier for oxygen and other needed supplies should you need to evacuate—preferably one that is water resistant to protect your items.
  • Lightweight canisters that you can roll or easily carry for 3-7 days of food for your service animal if you have one.
  • An emergency survival backpack  that includes emergency food and water supplies, first aid kit, flashlights/light sticks, masks, gloves, whistle, rain gear, medical supplies, survival blankets, duct tape, premoistened towlettes,  radio, cell phone charger, multi-tool and army knife.

This list is in no way comprehensive. Do you have ideas for other things to add to it? Do you have an emergency plan for yourself and/or your family?


What do you think? Let us know!