by Lynne Panayiotis and Larnie Ball

Victoria is one of the most fire prone areas in the world. Massive flooding events are also becoming more common. All Victorians need to know how to plan for, and respond to these natural disasters. How you respond will change depending on your situation.

As wheelchair users, our risk is increased, so by taking the time to prepare, you can reduce your risk and help keep you and your loved ones safe. If where you live increases your risk to fire or flood impacts, creating a plan using the tools on the Vic Emergency website is critical.

  1. Stay up to date. Keep informed and adhere to emergency service advice via apps and a traditional radio in the event mobile/internet reception fails.
  2. Plan where to go. Consider options that meet your needs and may include an emergency centre, friends, family or hotel.
  3. Plan how to get there. Consider modes of transport that could be available to you and route choice. Act early as roads may become congested.
  4. Bag packed for a week. Consider items like changes of clothes (including hat, sunscreen, long sleeves), toiletries, bladder/bowel care supplies and spare cushion cover.
  5. Keep connected and your supports informed. Discuss your plans with relevant family members, friends, neighbours, care agency and other support networks. Will you need regular assistance with personal care when away from home?  How could this be coordinated? What arrangements to you need to make for pets?
  6. Pack medications and scripts. Ensure you have at least a weeks supply with you.
  7. Gather important documents.  Items such as medical summaries, passports, drivers licence, marriage certificates, land titles, contact list of formal and informal supports. Take photos, pack to bring with you or give to a trusted person ahead of time outside your potential fire zome area.
  8. Important small personal items. Water, phone, tablet/laptop and rechargers.
  9. Mobility aid and essential equipment. If needed and you cannot travel with it, make arrangement to have the equipment available at your destination. Remember electrical dependent equipment, back up power supply, wheelchair repair/maintenance tool kit.

We know this isn’t easy stuff to think about or plan for – it’s confronting and anxiety inducing. But it is important, and making these preparations can help reduce longer-term anxiety and stress because you know that you’ve taken all the precautions you can, and you know that you’re ready.

And of course, there are more fun reasons to build your skills and readiness for staying away from home, like family celebrations or holidays. If that’s something you’d like to do, then you might be interested in attending one of our 2024 Staying Away From Home peer-led workshops, in-person or online. Keep your eye on the AQA Events page or give us a call.

  • January 9, 2024

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