Paru le vendredi 14 janvier 2011 sur The Toronto star
Henderson: Be prepared to help disable people in an emergency
Published On Fri Jan 14 2011EmailPrint
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By Helen Henderson
Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to sit safe and warm watching pictures of others snowed in or flooded out this winter. But what would you do if you found yourself at risk?
Do you have an emergency plan? What about your neighbours? Do you know of anyone who might need help coping, someone who might have mobility problems associated with age or disability?
Are there buddy systems in place in your community? If not, think about starting something on your street or in your high-rise building.
Remember, the first rule of safety: Never assume. Make sure you and those you care about know exactly what to do. Make sure emergency personnel are aware of special needs and the best way to accommodate them.
Take a look at Ontario’s new emergency preparedness guide for people with special needs. It’s full of ideas, including the basics of good emergency survival kits and contingency planning.
The guide, produced by Emergency Management Ontario and the province’s accessibility directorate, looks at different types of disabilities. But many suggestions are just common sense. Here’s a sampling.
Prepare an emergency survival kit. It should include a flashlight, radio and spare batteries, (including a deep-cycle battery for power wheelchairs or other assistive devices), a first aid kit, a telephone that will work during a power disruption, candles and lighters, extra car keys and cash, important papers, non-perishable food and bottled water, a manual can opener, clothing and footwear, blankets or sleeping bags, toilet paper and other personal items, medication, medical bracelets and a whistle to attract attention.
Don’t forget animals. Service animals are accepted at shelters in emergencies but family pets are not. Have a contingency plan.
Familiarize yourself with escape routes.
Designate an emergency contact person outside your immediate community, so relatives and friends can obtain information.
Build a network of people at work and at home who can assist you. Make sure they know about your emergency kit and contact numbers.
Make a list of food or drug allergies and medications.
Inform schools and caregivers about your plans.
Provide written instructions on how best to assist you.
Label all special needs equipment and attach laminated instruction cards on use.
Carry an alarm that emits a loud noise to help others locate you.
Tips on helping people with disabilities
• Always ask if they want help; don’t assume.
• Allow them to tell you how best to assist them.
• Don’t touch the person, their service animal or their assistive equipment without permission.
• Avoid attempts to move someone unless you are familiar with safe techniques.
• Never administer food or liquids to an unconscious or unresponsive person.
• Try communicating with someone who is deafblind by tracing letters with your finger on their palm.
• Keep a pencil and paper handy for written communication.
• Refrain from shouting or speaking unnaturally slowly.
Check out the emergency preparedness guide for people with special needs online at: emergencymanagementontario.ca/english/prepare/specialneeds/specialneeds.html . For alternative formats, contact Emergency Management Ontario 416-314-3723 or 1-877-314-3723 or the Accessibility Directorate 416-326-0207 or 1-888-520-5828, TTY: 416-326-0148 or 1-888-335-6611.
The site also has information on a free online course for emergency personnel and others who may provide services to people with special needs.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission has changed one rule relating to the mental-health survey discussed last month.
The survey is collecting personal stories on how discrimination related to mental health or addiction issues affects a person’s ability to find and keep a job, get an apartment or connect with services and activities.
Initially, the commission said all questionnaires must contain names and addresses for verification. It will now accept anonymous submissions.
The survey is available at ohrc.on.ca. For a printed copy, contact Vicky Masellis, 416-314-4526 or write the Ontario Human Rights Commission, 180 Dundas St. W., Toronto, Ont. M7A 2R9
Helen Henderson is a freelance writer and disability studies student at Ryerson University. Her column appears Saturdays. email@example.com