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Hurricane Sandy: Disaster Preparedness Tips and Resources

As Hurricane Sandy arrives, we wanted to share some important information to help people prepare for the storm. Please everyone be safe and follow all precautions.

The Autism Safety Project provides information for families and First Responders with information and guidelines for communicating with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in emergency situations.

AutismCares Provides Grants for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders During Times of Crisis or Unplanned Hardships

The following is from a blog post by Shelley Hendrix, the Director of State Based Advocacy at Autism Speaks, who lives in Southern Louisiana.

If you are one of those families evacuating here are some special things to do if you have a child with autism:

·     Grab your IEP and any pertinent medical records or evaluations you may have on hand.  Your IEP is a federal document and can help you settle your child in an alternate school setting more quickly if you have it on hand.

·     Bring identification for your children: birth certificates, passports, etc.

·     Bring copies of all of your billing statements, bank statements, etc.  Bills don’t stop even if floods come.

·     If you have purchased flood insurance ahead of time, you can go here to check your policy and see what additional requirements they may need for you to file a claim more quickly.

·     Pack enough medicines or special dietary needs for at least three weeks.  Flood waters are expected to last until mid-June. Shipments of new supplies to our area may be difficult or impossible. Bring copies of prescriptions with you or be sure you have refills scheduled with a national pharmacy that can access them electronically.

·     Bring items that will help your child adjust to their new surroundings with some of their comforts from home – favorite toys, DVDs and computer games.

·     If you use Assisted Technology Devices – don’t forget those and just in case record the device name, manufacturer’s name & information, model and serial numbers, vendor (Store’s/Seller’s) name and info, date of purchase and copy of receipt if available, copy of Doctor’s or Therapist’s prescription if available and contact and funder’s (i.e., Medicare, Medicaid, Insurance Co.) name, contact info, & policy numbers.

·     If staying in a shelter bring headphones or earplugs to help with noise.

·     Call the Red Cross prior to evacuating to ask them which shelters accommodate people with special needs. Upon arrival to any shelter, let them know your child has autism and explain what your specific child may need. Ask if there is a room or office where your family could stay if your child is a wandering risk.

·     Register with FEMA ahead of time. Or keep up with their mobile site while on the move.

·     Write down emergency contact numbers or put them into your cell phones including The Coast Guard – especially if you decide to ride this one out.

·     Remember children with autism are particularly drawn to water. With waters rising this quickly you will want to keep an extra eye on them if you are not fully out of harm’s way. Keep an eye out for snakes, alligators and balls of fire ants.  Floodwaters are full of trash, debris and bacteria like e Coli so stay out of them.

·     With any weather/water related emergency, electricity can be interrupted affecting bank ATMs and gas pumps.  Be sure to have your car gas tanks full and additional gas on hand.  Take cash out each day prior to evacuating as credit cards may not work due to electrical interruptions.

·     When you leave your home cut off the main electrical grid and gas main to the house. This will make it safer for officials, flood recovery personnel and for your return.

·     Empty your refrigerator and freezer or place contents in hefty bags and leave them in there. If your house doesn’t flood, you will thank me when all you have to do is reach in there and pull out a bag quickly!

·     If you are stubborn enough to stay, make sure you have access to your attic and keep an axe or other tool handy so you can escape to the roof as water comes up.

If there is one thing I have learned, families of children with autism are resilient.   Stay dry and stay safe.

Although families are in a critical situation along the Gulf Coast, it is a good idea for every family to have an emergency plan in place to know what you would do during a crisis.  Take time to scan your important documents and store them with online storage so they are accessible.

If your family needs assistance after any natural disaster please contact Autism Cares or our Family Services department at 888 AUTISM2 or familyservices@autismspeaks.org to let us know how we can help.