Hurricane Season and Covid-19

Hurricane season commenced June 1st. How do we prepare during the pandemic? If you’re a user of assistive technology (AT), consider these 9 tips:

Photo credit: Department of the Interior One. Evacuate Before It Is Mandatory

If you are in the path of a hurricane, get out as soon as evacuation is recommended. Hurricanes, unlike floods and fires, are advance-notice events. Take advantage of the warning. Shelter space may be limited because of the need for social distancing. People with disabilities are at risk of being diverted to nursing homes. An accessible weather radio can help you keep up with warnings and instructions from authorities.

Two. Identify Who Will Help You Evacuate

Consider more than one support person in case your primary support person becomes ill or unavailable.

Three. Prepare Your Go-Kit

Prepare a go-kit that includes face masks, disinfectant wipes, and cleaning supplies you might need, particularly should you end up in an emergency shelter or nursing home. Don’t neglect medical information, emergency contacts, and prescriptions. Consider completing and including this Communication Passport for Accidents and Emergencies . If you use AAC , review the recommendations in Prepare for the Hospital – Plan Your Communication Strategy .

Four. Decide Where You Can Go And Stay

Plan now with friends and family where you can go to get out of the way of a hurricane’s path. Have backup locations should your first option not be available due to Covid-19 or another reason. Avoid plans to use a public shelter if you have any other options. Shelters will be screening people for Covid-19 symptoms. You could end up in a quarantine environment that’s not desirable for your needs.

Five. Consider Your Needs While Staying With Friends Or Family

Will you need a bath chair, grab bars, transfer bench or adapted eating utensils? Can you store an extra set of these items in their homes?

Six. Consider Your Powered Equipment

Do you have backup batteries, car or solar charges for your AT? Can you evacuate or shelter in place with non-powered alternatives in case you lose access to power? Consider acquiring a lightweight manual wheelchair for evacuation purposes and a laminated “low-tech” communication board if you use a communication device. Your state may have a reuse program that can provide back-up durable medical equipment at no or low cost. Find your state’s device reutilization program .

Seven. Email Yourself Your AT Information (Now!)

Keep information about your AT available in the cloud. Consider emailing yourself your device make and model number; how it was obtained (Medicaid, private insurance, personal pay), where you purchased it, any other important information should you need to replace your AT unexpectedly. Create a subject line you can search and find in the future.