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In emergency situations, study shows disabled are unprepared

Today, we live in a world rife with natural disaster. Several times a year we hear about devastating hurricanes, monsoons, tornadoes and flooding that wipe out entire communities. While those who are most likely to encounter such disasters often have a plan in place for evacuation, a recent study found that people who live with disabilities often do not.

According to the worldwide survey of people with disabilities, only 30 percent of respondents have a personal plan to evacuate their home in an emergency situation. Just over 33 percent of respondents have a caretaker or someone else who could help them evacuate at any time of day. Only one-fifth of those surveyed said they would have no difficulty evacuating during an emergency, and 6 percent would have no way to escape a disaster situation.

While it was known already that more people with disabilities become injured or die in disaster scenarios than others, this study revealed concerning information about why that happens. Simply stated, many people with disabilities have been left to fend for themselves in emergency situations. Unfortunately, many cannot. 

Imagine being blind and having to find your way to safety, or being deaf and therefore unable to hear warning sirens alerting citizens to impending disaster. Other disabilities like limited mobility and intellectual disabilities can impede a person's ability to find safety in an emergency situation. 

While this study has revealed alarming information, fortunately, the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction plans to use it to find better ways to ensure that people who live with disabilities are able to get to safety when need be. Hopefully they make it a priority. 

Source: Disability Scoop, "Emergency Plans Lacking For Most With Disabilities," Michelle Diament, Oct. 11, 2013

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