Homeland Security and national groups join forces to help individuals with disabilities

Published on September 6, 2006

WASHINGTON, September 6, 2006  – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today joint efforts with AARPAmerican Red Cross, the National Organization on Disability (NOD) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to assist older Americans and individuals with disabilities in preparing for emergencies. 

The department’s Ready Campaign, AARP, Red Cross and NOD developed two new brochures highlighting the key preparedness steps older and disabled Americans and their families and caretakers should take before emergencies occur. The NFPA also announced its new Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities designed to help individuals with disabilities and businesses prepare for emergency evacuation events. Additionally, NFPA is including evacuation planning for people with disabilities in its series of emergency evacuation workshops across the country later this year. “We’re pleased to join with AARP, the American Red Cross, the National Organization on Disability and the National Fire Protection Association to unveil these important new resources for individuals and businesses,” said Homeland Security Under Secretary for Preparedness George Foresman. “National Preparedness Month, the anniversaries of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and last year’s devastating hurricanes serve as serious reminders that emergency preparedness is important for all citizens, especially older Americans and people with disabilities.”

These new tools were announced by Under Secretary Foresman and DHS Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Daniel Sutherland at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. The announcement included remarks by senior officials from AARP, Red Cross, NOD and NFPA, as well as an interactive presentation by local first responders for Armed Forces Retirement Home residents. 

Through its Ready Campaign, DHS encourages all Americans to get an emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan, and be informed about the types of emergencies that can happen and their appropriate responses.  The U.S. Census Bureau estimates more than 84 million Americans are over age 50. According to the National Organization on Disability, 54 million men, women and children in America have disabilities. The new Ready materials recommend these Americans add medicines, medical records, glasses and hearing aids and other equipment to their basic emergency supply kits. The brochures also recommend that individuals develop an emergency plan tailored to their unique needs and a personal support network they can call upon in the event of an emergency. In addition, the pieces urge Americans to learn about the types of emergencies that can occur where they live and the local plans in place in their communities.

NFPA’s Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities is a tool to provide people with disabilities, employers, building owners and others with assistance in developing emergency evacuation plans for people with disabilities. The guide includes critical information on the operational, planning and response elements necessary to developing a well thought out plan to evacuate a building in the event of an emergency. NFPA is using the funds from a Fire Act Grant provided by DHS to provide a series of evacuation workshops that will also include the importance of planning for members of the disability community. The workshops will focus on why organizations need well-developed and regularly practiced emergency evacuation and relocation plans.

For free copies of the new emergency preparedness brochures for older Americans and people with disabilities or more information about emergency preparedness for individuals, families and businesses, visit www.ready.gov, or call 1-800-BE-READY. NFPA’s planning guide, available later this year, can be downloaded free of charge from the NFPA Web site.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) promotes individual emergency preparedness through the Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps as part of a broader national effort conducted by the department’s Directorate for Preparedness. Ready is a national public service advertising campaign produced by The Advertising Council in partnership with DHS. The Ready Campaign is designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks. Individuals interested in more information about family and business preparedness can visit www.ready.gov or call 1-800-BE-READY to receive free materials. Citizen Corps, DHS’ grassroots effort, localizes preparedness messages and provides opportunities for citizens to get emergency response training; participate in community exercises; and volunteer to support local first responders. To learn more and to get involved, contact your nearest Citizen Corps Council. The department’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) oversees the implementation of Executive Order 13347, Individuals with Disabilities in Emergency Preparedness.  CRCL, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities, established the Disability Preparedness Center Resource Center Web site to provide emergency preparedness information specifically focusing on issues affecting people with disabilities, their family members and service providers and emergency managers.  

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. We produce AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators; and our Web site. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The American Red Cross has helped people mobilize to help their neighbors for 125 years. Last year, victims of a record 72,883 disasters, most of them fires, turned to the nearly 1 million volunteers and 35,000 employees of the Red Cross for help and hope. Through more than 800 locally supported chapters, more than 15 million people each year gain the skills they need to prepare for and respond to emergencies in their homes, communities and world. Almost 4 million people give blood—the gift of life—through the Red Cross, making it the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The Red Cross helps thousands of U.S. service members separated from their families by military duty stay connected. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a global network of more than 180 national societies, the Red Cross helps restore hope and dignity to the world's most vulnerable people. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

The National Organization on Disability, founded in 1982, promotes the full and equal participation and contribution of America’s 54 million men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life. N.O.D. is funded entirely by private donations. For more information, contact N.O.D. at 202/293-5960; TDD: 202/293-5968.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

NFPA (National Fire Protection Association)
1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02169-7471 USA
Telephone: +1 617 770-3000 Fax: +1 617 770-0700