Recently, we were asked about emergency preparedness and safety resources for people with Down syndrome. We started to research the topic and found numerous resources that may be helpful to people with Down syndrome and their families. Making plans that account for the specific needs of your family for every possible emergency situation probably feels overwhelming (it does to us!). Developing plans will take time and the plans may change as the needs of your family change. Consider setting aside some time each month to work on emergency preparedness and safety. Some of the resources linked below include checklists and calendars to help you break up the planning process.
Ready is a national public service campaign designed to help people prepare for, respond to, and mitigate emergencies, including natural and man-made disasters. The Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities page is a good starting place. Ready also has a page that guides you through filling out an emergency plan online and then creating a PDF of your plan that you can print.
Your city, county, or state may have emergency preparedness resources with information that is more specific to your area. For example, the state of Illinois has a website called Ready Illinois.
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross website provides steps to help you become "Red Cross Ready" for emergencies. The How to Prepare for Emergencies page provides an overview and links to a preparedness essentials checklist and plan templates. You can review resources by type of emergency and by type of need. There is a Disaster Safety for People with Disabilities page as well.
Temple University Institute on Disabilities
The Temple University Institute on Disabilities has emergency preparedness resources developed specifically for people with disabilities. Their resources include free downloadable emergency communication picture aids that have words related to emergencies.
Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training (ASERT) is a program that was started in Pennsylvania to provide information and resources for people with autism and their families. They have developed several visuals and social stories that individuals with Down syndrome (with or without autism) may find helpful.
When to call 911
The resources above are a small sample of emergency and safety resources that are available. Have you used any of them? Were they helpful? Do you know of other resources? Please contact us to share your feedback and ideas.