September is National Preparedness Month in the US. Schools and businesses everywhere should have emergency plans, and these should include consideration of everyone’s diverse needs. Developing an emergency plan involves gathering information, creating the plan, and building a kit, at the very least, but every step should take into account the different ways that emergencies can affect people.
Emergency planning needs to include individuals with disabilities from the beginning—including their needs only after the initial plan has been created will not be as effective. Assigning particular people to take on specific roles in case of an emergency can also help a plan run smoothly. Security systems should take into account that some people in a building at any given time may be Deaf or hard of hearing and include visual cues, such as flashing lights, in addition to auditory alarms. Exit signs should be clear, preferably consisting of readily recognized or international symbols. If signage must include words, they may need to be in more than one language.
Learn more about fire safety and alarm accessories here and check out this year’s National Preparedness Month toolkit here. Needs around emergency preparedness vary depending on the environment, the scale of the emergency and the organizations preparing. For a different perspective, read about disability-inclusive emergency preparedness in Canada’s north here.