Get Out Quick!

What would you grab in the event you and your family member with special needs were required to suddenly leave your home? Some people were faced with 10-minute evacuation orders in the recent Hurricane Harvey, and others may face the same issue as Hurricane Irma heads toward Florida. Take a close look at these six emergency kits. Customize them for your needs and pack them up so you are prepared in advance for an unexpected evacuation in any sort of emergency.

Family Kit. You might consider keeping a bag packed at all times with a change of clothes and basic toiletries for everyone along with water bottles and snacks, water-free hand cleaner, wet-wipes, zip lock bags, flashlight with extra batteries, and other items you anticipate needing. If you must leave in a rush, don’t forget your cell phone, phone charger, and solar/battery charger.

Personal Bag. Encourage your friend with special needs to pack his own small, zippered bag in advance. It works best in the rush and chaos of sudden evacuation to select a very distinctively decorated or brightly colored bag so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Of course, as a music therapist, I’m going to highly encourage my music therapy buddies to include their favorite music on a device with charger and earphones :-) I also encourage including items such as a familiar book, favorite game or toy, favorite socks or blanket, and other familiar personal items.

Photo Album. To help ease transition into unfamiliar surroundings during the emergency evacuation, include a small photo album for your friend with special needs. Include pictures of family, friends, pets, house, and other familiar people and places. Interestingly, in the age of online photos, most of my friends with autism are entranced with hard copy photos, so I encourage you to print photos of the familiar people, pets, and places.

Sleep-Tight Bag. To help encourage peaceful sleep in unfamiliar places, pack your youngster’s pillow, sheet/blanket, pajamas, toothbrush, and teddy bear in a colorful stuff bag that is easy to identify and locate when you stop for the night.

“YIKES” Kit. Keep an emergency kit handy that not only has first aid items and essential medications, but also copies of prescriptions and other medical orders, cash, personal identification  for all family members, and copies of other essential paperwork and legal documents.

Attitude. Calm, measured responses to emergency situations help prevent panic and helplessness. You can help allay anxiety and agitation in the event of an emergency evacuation by gathering up essential items, taking a deep breath, and at least pretend like you are all heading out for an adventure to the unknown.