Several years ago, the Choosework blog featured a post on this theme in response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001. We’re running an update of that post in part because of the timeless nature of its message.
Disaster can strike at any time. Having a plan for emergencies and disasters may save your life. For people with specific access or functional needs, having a plan is especially important.
Does your employer have a disaster preparedness plan? Does it accommodate people with disabilities? If your employer has a disaster or emergency plan, talk to your supervisor or human resources department to ensure that employees with disabilities are included in the plan.
Your Personal Emergency Plan
Even if your employer has an emergency preparedness plan, you should also have a personal emergency plan that meets your needs at work. If you have special needs because of a disability, it’s particularly important that you take responsibility for your safety by planning in advance.
Below are a few steps you can take to create your personal plan for responding to an emergency at work:
- Start creating your plan by reviewing the American Red Cross guide, Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and other Special Needs.
- Assess your need for help during an evacuation. It may vary for people with different disabilities such as respiratory conditions, hearing or vision impairments, or mobility issues.
- Be familiar with emergency evacuation options (stairwells, ramps, evacuation chairs, etc.).
- Establish a personal support network, like a “buddy system,” with co-workers, friends and family.
- Practice giving instructions on how to help you.
- Communicate with your employer about accommodations for emergency situations.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maintains a website dedicated to emergency preparedness, Ready.gov. There, you’ll find an excellent planning resource for individuals with disabilities to use both on and off the job.
About Ticket to Work
Social Security’s Ticket to Work program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work.
The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.
To learn more about Ticket to Work, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work, and contact the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 (Voice) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket to Work Find Help tool.