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Emergency Preparedness When Living With MS

By Mary Pettigrew
emergency-preparedness.jpgAs of late, it seems every Sunday in my neck of the woods of Dallas, Texas, brings either tornadoes or storms. They have produced fear, unpredictability and power outages lasting too long for many people to endure. I’m lucky. My mother, brother, and friends are near enough to help when emergency calls. However, when situations arise where driving and other conditions become treacherous, others may not be so lucky – meaning, they may not be able to get to you, me and vice versa. 

When family, friends, local officials, and relief workers cannot reach you, it’s imperative you be as prepared as possible. Get informed, make a plan, assemble a kit, and maintain your plan and kit!

Do your best to follow local news and add the apps to your cellphones most needed for your area, including the radar maps so you can stay abreast of your location. 

Create a kit of necessities and keep it up to date
  • Contact information for family, important people, and care providers
  • A list of medications, dosages, and any allergies
  • Styles and serial numbers of all medical and assistive devices
  • Need-to-know information for first responders and others who might need to help you
Gather important information ahead of time
Prepare for a power outage

Sometimes there may be no siren or alarm for such emergencies, however when time is of the unpredictable essence, here are some lifesaving tips to see you through times of uncertainty.

Make sure your cell phone is fully charged and you have a backup charger to plug into your car.

Make sure your car has enough gas to get you where you might need to go for safety, or to charge up a dead cellphone battery for use. When power and WiFi is unavailable, the car charger can be important. Make sure to go to your settings and turn on your “cellular data” for internet use.
  • Purchase a crank charger for cell phones and laptops – they are inexpensive and helpful for when all battery juice is defunct. Some varieties come with a battery-powered radio to keep you informed of weather conditions or shelter needs.
  • Pack an extra set of keys, online passwords, IDs, etc. as needed.
  • Flashlights – keep plenty on hand for power outages (keep in your car and throughout your house)
  • Ziplock baggies – Important for food, important papers, and medications
  • Batteries – all kinds for all needs
  • Bottled water – no explanation needed
  • Freezer “gel packs” – for heat and pain and injury related issues
  • Pet food, crates, and leashes – if needed
  • Include appropriate clothing as needed 
Keep contact information for generators – some are available for rental in case of emergency and for people with disabilities or in need of immediate cooling or oxygen.

Register yourself with the city departments regarding special needs, disabilities, oxygen, etc.

Keep a list of shelters, neighbors, Red Cross, and other emergency contacts.

Keep all medical and pharmaceutical information up to date online via “MyChart” or whatever resource you and your hospital may use – Keep a kit filled with alcohol swaps, meds, and other needs.

Here is a list of emergency “go to” resources as needed:
  • CDC
  • Red Cross
  • Weather Channel
  • CMS
  • National Hurricane Center
  • En Espanol Recursos
  • General Prepardness Resourses – Federal, etc. 
  • FEMA, P.O. Box 2012, Jessup, MD 20794-2012
For the millions of people who live with MS and other disabilities, emergencies pose a threat that can sometimes be treacherous or lifesaving. If prepared, you can make the most of your situation. Plan ahead, discuss with your family, friends, and personal caregivers to ensure you can be as prepared as possible. Keep multiple copies of your needs, documents, and all pertinent information for yourself. Share copies for others involved in your life to ensure you safety and wellbeing is in good hands.