Preparing for an Emergency: Practical Tips from VIVA Mutual and Red Cross

Preparing for an Emergency

Emergencies can happen when we least expect them, and being prepared can make all the difference. Whether it’s a power cut, a water leak, a medical emergency, or any unexpected event, having a plan can help you stay calm and safe. The VIVA Mutual team and Australian Red Cross offers some fantastic advice on how to get ready for emergencies, and here are their suggestions to help you to prepare for the unexpected.

Why Prepare?

Being prepared means having the knowledge, skills, and resources to handle emergencies effectively. It can reduce the stress and confusion that often accompany these situations and can ensure that you and your family are safe and well-supported. For people living with disabilities, ageing and health concerns, preparation is especially important, as it may take additional time and resources to evacuate or respond to an emergency.

Chances are, if you’re ready for anything, it probably won’t happen! Also, the process of working through a plan for emergencies often shows us new and easier ways of doing things at other times too! And in the end, the purpose is to keep us safe and to reduce our stress wherever possible, by planning ahead and being prepared.

Step 1: Know the Risks

Understanding the types of emergencies that are likely to happen in your area is the first step. In South Australia, we might face power cuts, blocked drains, roof leaks, bushfires, floods, storms, or heatwaves. It’s essential to be aware of these risks so you can plan accordingly.

Step 2: Make a Plan

A solid emergency plan outlines what you and your family or support team, etc., will do in various emergency situations. Here’s how to create one:

  • Discuss with Others: Talk to everyone involved (e.g. family, support team, friends etc.) about what to do in different types of emergencies. Make sure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities.

  • Emergency Contacts: Write down important phone numbers, including those of family members, neighbours, support provider(s) and local emergency services. Ensure you and everyone else knows how to access these contacts quickly.

  • Evacuation Routes: Identify the safest routes out of your home and neighbourhood. Practice these routes with everyone involved (e.g. family, support team, friends etc.), particularly if anyone experiences mobility issues and/or has children and/or pets.

  • Meeting Points: Choose a couple of meeting points where everyone involved (e.g. family, support team, friends etc.), can reunite if separated. One should be near your home, and another should be outside your immediate neighbourhood.

Step 3: Pack an Emergency Kit

An emergency kit is important in the event that you need to leave where you live or stay home without access to basic services. Here’s what to include:

  • Water: At least 3 litres per person per day for drinking and sanitation.
  • Food: Non-perishable items like canned goods, nuts, and dried fruits.
  • First Aid Kit: Include bandages, antiseptics, medications, and any necessary medical supplies. Medications are really critical, and you should keep an up-to-date list of what’s required (names/brands and strengths) as well as when they’re to be taken/administered; revisit this list every time your medication is changed.
  • Personal Items: Toiletries, extra clothing, and significant documents (ID, insurance papers) in a waterproof container.
  • Communication Tools: If you have a mobile phone, take this, and consider including a mobile phone charger or a power bank.
  • Assistive Technology (AT) items: Ensure you have all necessary medical supplies, equipment, fidgets, books etc. so you can stay mobile and regulated when away from home. Include items for service animals, if applicable.

Step 4: Stay Informed

During an emergency, information is crucial. Make sure you:

  • Listen to those who are handling the problem:  e.g. SA Power, plumber, SAPOL, CFS, Local Authorities and find out how the situation is progressing
  • Stay Connected: Follow reliable sources on social media and have a plan for staying in touch with others who are doing the same.

Step 5: Practice Your Plan

Regularly practising your emergency plan ensures everyone knows what to do and can act quickly. Conduct drills with your support team every few months and review your plan annually to make any necessary updates.

Special attention should be paid to:

Here are some extra tips to ensure safety if you’re living with disability, ageing and/or health conditions:

– Personal Support Network: Identify friends, family, or neighbours who can assist you during an emergency. Share your emergency plan with them.

– Medical Information: Keep a list of your medications, medical conditions, and healthcare providers in your emergency kit.

– Assistive Devices: Ensure you have spares or alternatives for any essential devices, such as hearing aids, wheelchairs, or communication devices.

Stay Safe and Prepared

Preparing for an emergency might seem daunting, but it’s a vital step in ensuring the safety and well-being of you and your loved ones. By following this advice and taking the time to plan and prepare, you and your people can face any emergency with confidence and calm.

Reach Out for Support

VIVA Mutual’s Support Centre team is always available to share our expertise and experience for the benefit of Support Coordinators, NDIS participants and those who support them. Many of us live with disabilities ourselves and/or have family members with NDIS Plans too, so we know what we’re talking about. 

For a confidential chat with one of VIVA Mutual’s understanding and supportive folks, please call 08 8877 8000 or email us via

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