Helping individuals with physical limitations during natural disasters

Last month ended with a reminder to all of us that Mother Nature is unpredictable and powerful. It reminded us that we need to be ready at all times, but what about our seniors and people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. What about those home bound individuals that cannot be reached by home care personnel? What about those individuals that are disabled and cannot evacuate because they live in an old building that is not ADA compliant. These were some of the questions I was left pondering with after the natural events that hit us towards the end of last month.

Everybody talks about preparedness, giving list after list of items that should be included within an emergency kit among other very useful ideas. However, what about making apartments and houses more accessible and user friendly for those with physical limitations. Based on a report published by the Kaiser Foundation in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, it was found that 45 percent of those surveyed did not leave New Orleans because of a physical disability that made it impossible or they were caring for someone who could not leave. More recently, AARP reported on the devastating effects the earthquake/tsunami had on the elderly population of that nation of Japan. According to the report, 47 of 113 residents of a retirement home died because they were not able to escape to the second floor.

I think that it is important to make homes and apartments, here in New York, more accessible and user-friendly not only for seniors and people with disabilities, but also to facilitate the work of first responders and caregivers in the event of an emergency. For instance, placing a hand rail with a fluorescent strip along a long corridor can assist with someone’s mobility during a black out. Or placing movement activated lights which are usually battery operated. For communication purposes, we could either have a large button or voice activated telephone connected to a land line, since cellphones have proven to be less than reliable during natural disasters. Another idea is to have a designated medicine cabinet or drawer with a pill dispenser; this can save someone’s life in case of an emergency. These are some quick and simple ideas that can go a long way in saving someone’s life during an emergency caused by a natural disaster.


Miller Calberto, MS, OTR/L, CAPS
Senior partner
Adapting Spaces, LLC

6 Responses to “ Helping individuals with physical limitations during natural disasters

  1. you have a great blog here! would you like to make some invite posts on my blog?

  2. admin says:

    Hello, I would like to make some invites on your blog

  3. happyday67 says:

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  4. admin says:

    Hello, Happyday67!

    I hired somebody to create the website and the blog, Captivate Design did it for me.

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  6. admin says:

    Hi, Norberto! thanks for the comments and I will make sure to resolve that issue. I hope you keep on reading.


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