Tag: CERT

The Signing Families Mini-Emergency Communication Chart – For When Time Counts! (ASL- English – Spanish – Chinese)

This pocket-sized emergency communication chart has FOUR different languages represented. Photos for a dozen important informational signs are in sign language, English, Spanish and Chinese!

There is a space for writing with a washable marker allows for efficient communication during challenging situations, such as medical emergencies or disasters

Aside

Hurricane earthquake disaster damage ruined house

It is hard to believe that ten years ago many of us were glued to our television  sets watching a hurricane develop  in the Atlantic Ocean and then slowly but surely find its’ way to the Gulf Coast.  It was named –  Hurricane Katrina.  While no doubt a horrific hurricane that caused millions if not billions in damages, it truly was the flooding from when the levees broke that made this hurricane written in to the history books.  Who can forget the television footage of reporters on boats making their way through what were the beautiful streets of New Orleans? How can people erase the images of people crying out for help?  So many sad memories of those who evacuated, lost everything or suffered trauma that to this day may be unspeakable. It was “Katrina” that cast a dark shadow on the United States’ ability to help their own people during a crisis.  For many, Katrina will forever be remembered as a “one-two- three punch” of a storm.  First the hurricane, then the flooding and then the failure for help to arrive when needed the most.

Related: Video playlist of Hurricane Katrina footage and history

There is no question that we did not prepare nor evacuate and assist those in need to the best of our collective abilities.  Families were shipped off to different locales including sending relatives to opposite sides of the country. I recall meeting families who had been uprooted and sent to the Washington DC- Baltimore area. They simply were in shock. They had nothing.  Our local neighbors and religious organizations offered them food, clothing, toys for the kids and just about anything else we could think of!  I often wondered what has happened to them ten years later.  Did they go home to New Orleans?

Then there were those who refused to leave their homes. Many because they wanted to “ride out the storm”. Yet a good number wouldn’t leave as they couldn’t handle leaving behind a family pet.  Others were unsure of how their elderly relatives or ones with special needs would be able to endure shelters- so they stayed.

And now looking back we now know that for some of these families these were fatal mistakes.

There must be some lessons we have learned since August of 2005? But, what are they?  How did we alter the way we prepare and respond to disasters since Katrina? 

I believe that emergency responders never again want to have what happened during and after Katrina be repeated.  Never again do we want people to feel helpless and hopeless.  As aforementioned, many people failed to evacuate because they couldn’t bring their pets to shelters or  provide for their safety.  Others failed to evacuate because they felt they were “safe” only to be in dire straits when the levees broke.  Lives could have been saved if pets, the elderly and better communication were all in place. Although we cannot undo the tragedies of 2005, we have learned from them.

Thankfully now many laws and initiatives have been instituted that are a direct result of Katrina.  One is regarding the care of animals during emergencies. In some areas, no longer do people need to make a choice. (Read how Congress changed animal care during disasters by clicking here).  People are now encouraged to plan ahead and have “back up plans” for their animals in the event of an emergency.

Communication also has improved as now videos in multiple languages, including American Sign Language (ASL),  have been made available for all to access important information about preparations needed for families to be safe in case of an emergency situation, how to ready for impending disasters, and what to expect from response and recovery.  Local community response teams (CERT) have grown and are now a wonderful grassroots effort to help our citizens be safe, including our most vulnerable members – seniors and those with disabilities.  I can’t rave enough about these amazing people who give beyond measure by engaging the most during a time when many would prefer to go away from a disaster.

Read the changes made with emergency management following “Katrina” – a FEMA Document.

It is amazing how many people are now more responsive to hurricane warnings. After all, Katrina was suppose to be a Category 1 storm that quickly gained momentum and strength.  One of the lessons that many have learned is to have a disaster preparedness kit.  Flashlights, batteries and crank radios are now common place in people’s homes and cars.  The Red Cross has put together a very useful website chocked full of disaster preparedness recommendations.

Remember to plan with your loved ones to prepare before a disaster happens! That is the lesson we ALL can take away from Katrina and apply in preparation for any other  disasters – natural and at the hands of man. As there is bound to be “something” in our future and at least we can be ready.

I am sure that many of you have many more suggestions.  As always, please feel free to comment.

Thanks for reading and may this hurricane season be kind and gentle and not as catastrophic as Katrina.

~Louise

Maui, I loved you but…

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I recently returned from the lovely Hawaiian Island of Maui. So beautiful and in some places even exotic. Covered with lovely beaches, including those with black sand. Surrounded by majestic mountains that are taller than most of the clouds that filtered around the island.

Yes, Maui’s landscape and people are AMAZING but, throughout my visit I kept having a gnawing feeling of concern with this destination. For an island that has a huge tourism industry and thousands of residents that live within a mile to their shores, I saw no obvious disaster preparedness or safety information regarding evacuation routes in the event of an earthquakes or tsunami.

Thursday, 10/16 at 10:16 a.m. – READY, SET, HOLD ON!

Nearly 25 years ago one of the worst earthquakes happened in the Bay area of California. It history was to repeat itself- would YOU be ready for an earthquake and potential tsunami. Join millions this THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16th at 10:16am for the North American Earthquake drill by ShakeOut.org

This video is in American Sign Language (ASL) and open captioned with voice.

Will you accept the ASL CHALLENGE?

Starting tomorrow, October 1st, I will be hosting a 31 days, 31 ASL CHALLENGE on YouTube. It is my goal to teach people FREE how to communicate using basic sign language. The signs will be geared for daily living and school terminology with a sprinkle of signs in the event of a disaster or medical emergency. Sign language has traditionally been considered only used within the Deaf community. However, more and more children and adults with Autism and Down Syndrome are now learning sign for communication, too! Starting tomorrow, October 1st, I will be hosting a 31 days, 31 ASL CHALLENGE on YouTube. It is my goal to teach people FREE how to communicate using basic sign language. The signs will be geared for daily living and school terminology with a sprinkle of signs in the event of a disaster or medical emergency. Sign language has traditionally been considered only used within the Deaf community. However, more and more children and adults with Autism and Down Syndrome are now learning sign for communication, too! Starting tomorrow, October 1st, I will be hosting a 31 days, 31 ASL CHALLENGE on YouTube. It is my goal to teach people FREE how to communicate using basic sign language. The signs will be geared for daily living and school terminology with a sprinkle of signs in the event of a disaster or medical emergency. Sign language has traditionally been considered only used within the Deaf community. However, more and more children and adults with Autism and Down Syndrome are now learning sign for communication, too!

December Newsletter: 2013 in Review, ASL Style

Happy December! I know every year has 12 months, yet this year seemed to have gone by in a flash! I use to keep better track of the seasons, and time in general, during the “parenting years” – when I had kids in school. Back then I knew what month it was by what PTA project I volunteered to do. October was the Halloween parade, December was buying teacher holiday gifts, and so on. Now that my kids are grown and my status is that of having a “low occupancy home”, I realized that I must now resort to keeping track of the old fashioned way- by the iCal app! Which explains why the alarm on my desktop went off yesterday with a message reading- “WRITE ANNUAL YEAR IN REVIEW BLOG TODAY”.

I know myself too well, the alarm went off again today flashing – “YOU FORGOT TO WRITE YOUR ANNUAL YEAR IN REVIEW BLOG – DO IT NOW!”

So here it goes… Nearly 4800 people have found our SIGNING FAMILIES Facebook page. I used this social media page to help people to learn about sign language (ASL) and the deaf community. I also focused during the year on issues regarding Autism, Down Syndrome and education. Then I sprinkled a hefty dose of humor, inspiration and giveaways!

Happy December! I know every year has 12 months, yet this year seemed to have gone by in a flash! I use to keep better track of the seasons, and time in general, during the “parenting years” – when I had kids in school. Back then I knew what month it was by what PTA project I volunteered to do. October was the Halloween parade, December was buying teacher holiday gifts, and so on. Now that my kids are grown and my status is that of having a “low occupancy home”, I realized that I must now resort to keeping track of the old fashioned way- by the iCal app! Which explains why the alarm on my desktop went off yesterday with a message reading- “WRITE ANNUAL YEAR IN REVIEW BLOG TODAY”.

I know myself too well, the alarm went off again today flashing – “YOU FORGOT TO WRITE YOUR ANNUAL YEAR IN REVIEW BLOG – DO IT NOW!”

So here it goes… Nearly 4800 people have found our SIGNING FAMILIES Facebook page. I used this social media page to help people to learn about sign language (ASL) and the deaf community. I also focused during the year on issues regarding Autism, Down Syndrome and education. Then I sprinkled a hefty dose of humor, inspiration and giveaways!

Oklahoma – Rebuilding After Disaster

I HEART OKLAHOMA– in a really big way! The nicest people live in a state which sustained some of the worst tragedy at the hands of “Mother Nature”.   I first visited Oklahoma this past June, three weeks after the cities of Moore and Norman were devastated by  EF5 tornados.  I couldn’t believe what I…

DISASTER SAFETY INFORMATION FOR FAMILIES WITH SPECIAL NEEDS – 2015 updated post with additional safety resources

Update: Sadly tornado “season” has been wicked during 2015, therefore I am re – blogging this post that originally posted in 2013. At the bottom of this post is additional safety resources including for earthquake, flood, hurricane, tsunami and wildfire preparedness.

Dear First Responders, THANK YOU!

BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING * TEXAS FERTILIZER EXPLOSION * FLOODING IN MIDWEST *

These events and so many more are why we all need to take a minute to thank the FIRST RESPONDERS in our community. From Police to Fire Fighters to Emergency Medical Personnel including EMTs on the scene to Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) to Comfort Dog Associations the American Red Cross and to so many others….

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