Iowans with disabilities need to be well prepared for emergencies, storms

By Matt Kelley (Radio Iowa)

Iowans of all ages and abilities need to be prepared for severe weather, but people with mobility issues — either due to a disability or age — need to be especially conscious of where they would seek shelter in case of emergency.

Emily Holley, regional communications manager for the Nebraska-Iowa chapter of the American Red Cross, has issues with severe chronic pain and she walks with a cane.

“For my family, we have a spot under the basement stairs that we get to,” Holley says, “however, if there was a time where I was unable to get down those stairs, we have a windowless room, the laundry room, where I would go.”

Holley says she has a “go bag” that contains an array of emergency supplies, like fresh water, non-perishable food, and a flashlight, along with other essentials, like a battery power pack to charge a phone. “Folks using various mobility devices, especially those that depend on electricity, you want to make sure that you have at least three days worth of power supply,” Holley says. “You want to make sure that you are able to utilize those devices that are helping you function.”

Consider that safe spot in your house an emergency shelter and outfit it with whatever you might need, including snacks and medications. “We always recommend folks have a battery-powered or crank radio so that you can hear what’s going on,” Holley says. “You also want to make sure that you have the ability to protect your head. I like to recommend that folks keep a bicycle helmet for each of the family members in that tornado shelter.”

The Red Cross has an Emergency App that’s free and Holley says it will come in very handy when you need it. “It gives lots of preparedness tips for people in different circumstances and different locations,” Holley says. “You can also set up warnings throughout the country. For example, my sister lives in Massachusetts, and I have her location set up, so in the event that some severe weather is hitting her location, I get an alert.”

It’s important to plan what you’d do in an emergency and Holley suggests holding a drill with the entire family twice a year. Find more tips at:


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