Texans with Disabilities Observe National Preparedness Month

Texans with Disabilities Observe National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM) and Texas Preparedness Month, as proclaimed by Governor Greg Abbott. This month serves as a reminder that we all must take action to prepare, now and throughout the year, for the types of emergencies that could affect us where we live, work, and also where we visit. Hurricane season continues through November 30. This is when most tropical storms are expected to develop across the northern Atlantic Ocean, placing an increased risk for hurricanes in the Texas Gulf Coast.

NPM concludes a month of preparedness activities on Friday September 30th with America’s PrepareAthon Day. Texans with disabilities can catch up on all the preparedness month training and guidance at the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s NPM Website. This year’s theme is “Don’t Wait, Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today,” with a continuing emphasis on preparedness for youth, older adults, people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs. As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • It is important that people with disabilities and their family members make plans to protect themselves in the event of disasters.
  • It is important that, first responders know how to work with people with disabilities to evacuate them safely and quickly.
  • It is important that emergency planners ensure that shelters are accessible to people with a variety of disabilities.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has developed resources to aid in emergency preparedness for individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs. Resources can be found at https://www.ready.gov/individuals-access-functional-needs. You can also visit the Texas Ready or Not website at www.texasprepares.org for additional information on getting prepared.

What else can you do to prepare?

Next month, on October 4th during National Night Out, Texans with disabilities can spend time getting to better know their neighbors and discuss safety and preparedness plans during this day focused on neighborhood crime prevention awareness.

Texans with disabilities can also sign up for the State of Texas Emergency Registry (STEAR) program, a free registry that provides local emergency planners and emergency responders with additional information on the potential needs of people with disabilities and other access and functional needs in their community. Signing up for the STEAR registry DOES NOT guarantee that you will receive a specific service during an emergency. However, local governments as well as search and rescue personnel can utilize the information to ensure individuals with disabilities have been evacuated when necessary. Services vary by community. Register for STEAR at: https://STEAR.dps.texas.gov or call 2-1-1 or use your video telephone relay option of choice to contact 211 at 877-541-7905 (Texas Information and Referral Network).

Planning Throughout the Year

Emergency planning for individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs is not something that can only be considered once a year. Planning for individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs must be integrated in all aspects of emergency management. Our communities must build strong relationships with reputable organizations that work with persons with disabilities and familiarize themselves with tools that have been developed to serve the needs of persons with disabilities or access and functional needs before a disaster.

To promote these continued efforts, the State of Texas established the Texas Disability Task Force on Emergency Management. The task force is charged with developing and providing guidance and information related to preparedness and response to state and local emergency managers that is inclusive of people with disabilities. The task force has developed guidance documents, training curriculum, and state emergency management plan additions. For more information on the Texas Disability Task Force on Emergency Management visit their website at: http://dps.texas.gov/dem/CouncilsCommittees/txDisabilityTaskForce.htm.

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