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Booklet helps people with disabilities cope in a disaster

Thursday, 13 August 2015 10:00 a.m.

A new booklet prepared for Bay of Plenty people with disabilities is designed to help them manage more independently in a disaster.

The booklet, prepared by the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management Group, includes advice about how disasters such as earthquakes, storms and other major events could affect a person with disabilities and their independence. It encourages people to prepare an emergency plan and kit, and develop their own networks before a disaster to manage more successfully when disaster strikes.

The booklet includes checklists of what people could need in an emergency, how to build an emergency kit over time and lists of contacts and where information is stored for helpers or emergency services workers.

It also has coloured labels that people with speech difficulties can use to give information to rescuers and helpers. This might include how to assist someone who is blind, manage an oxygen tank or carry someone with special physical needs.

The Director of Emergency Management Bay of Plenty Clinton Naude said the booklet is an update of a 2009 version developed by the Disabilities Resource Centre Trust, and has been created in collaboration with Bay of Plenty District Health Board and CCS Disability Action.

“It’s an invaluable resource for anyone with a disability, and their support workers and families. We hope it will help people learn more about what they can do to prepare for a disaster so they will be ready before an emergency,” he said.

“Once people have worked through the booklet and filled in the information sheets, they should feel more confident that they can cope in an emergency, and that will help the community as a whole become more resilient as well.”

He said a great deal was learned during the Canterbury earthquakes about what people with disabilities needed to manage in a disaster, and this had been incorporated into the checklists and information. People may need to have a more detailed evacuation plan, or need to manage service animals as well as themselves.

“This booklet has been designed to fill a need for more information for people with a variety of disabilities. We’re hoping that people and their support workers will sit down together, fill in the information, and start to develop their own specialised emergency kits and checklists.”

The booklet is available online from the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence website www.bopcivildefence.govt.nz

Naomi and Mary (CD)