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The likelihood that you and your family will recover from an emergency tomorrow often depends on the planning and preparation done today. While each person's abilities and needs are unique, every individual can take steps to prepare for all kinds of emergencies from fires and floods to potential terrorist attacks. By evaluating your own personal needs and making an emergency plan that fits those needs, you and your loved ones can be better prepared. This guide outlines common-sense measures individuals with disabilities, special needs and their caregivers can take to start preparing for emergencies before they happen. Preparing makes sense for people with disabilities and special needs.

MAKE A KIT: Think first about the basics for survival-food, water, clean air and any life-sustaining items you require. Consider two kits. In one kit put everything you will need to stay where you are and make it on your own for a period of time. The other kit should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you have to leave your home.

Recommended basic emergency supplies include:

* water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days

* Food, at least a three-day supply on non-perishable food and a can opener

* Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio and extra batteries

* Flashlight and extra batteries

* First aid kit

* Whistle to signal for help

* Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

* Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

* Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

* Local maps

* Pet food, extra water and supplies for your pet or service animal


Food borne illness (food poisoning) is fairly common-every year about 48 million people (one in six) in the U.S. become ill from eating contaminated foods. Of those, about 3,000 die. Elderly people are at special risk because they can't efficiently fight off the bacteria, virus, and parasites that make people sick.

Take these precautions at home for the person in your care:

* Wash hands with soap before preparing, serving, or eating food

* Disinfect sink and kitchen counters with a solution of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach per one gallon of water

* Air drying dishes is more sanitary than using a dish towel

* Check all meat, poultry, and fish thoroughly, to an oven temperature of at least 325-degrees F. Cook hamburgers or chopped meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

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