Tag Archives: emergency preparedness

flat tire with jack

Items to Keep in Your Vehicle in Case of an Emergency

We can’t always predict what is going to happen, but we can take some steps to prepare for an emergency or unexpected situation. While you might already have your vehicle’s owner’s manual and insurance information available, adding a few more essential items in your vehicle goes a long way in making an emergency manageable, safer and more comfortable for all involved.

Let’s look at a few of those essential items you should always keep in your vehicle to be safe:

First Aid Kit

You can either purchase a prepackaged one or assemble your own first aid kit. If you choose to assemble your own kit, make sure you include bandages in various sizes, sanitary gloves, antibiotic cream, pain relievers, gauze, cotton swabs, as well as a hand sanitizer. Also, consider including a thermometer, heating pad, and medications you feel you might need.

Warning Devices

In case you are stuck on a busy road or in traffic, having an emergency signal or road flare will warn other motorists that your car is stalled. While some are foldable and can fit in your glove box, avoid storing your flares there or in any part of your car that gets very warm. It might also help to read up on the proper and safe way of lighting a road flare.


Most people are so comfortable these days relying on their phones for navigation, that they don’t think to keep a map in their vehicle. It’s a good idea though, so you can find your way if your phone or other GPS device fails.



Spare Tire and Jumper Cables

They both can provide makeshift solutions to the most common issues you will experience with your vehicle. If you can find room in your vehicle, the spare tire will be useful when replacing a flat, while the jumper cables can be utilized to jump-start your vehicle in case of a dead battery. Even if you’re not able to use these things, having them handy will still help if a fellow motorists stops to lend a hand.

Tire Iron, Jack, and Tire Wedges

Having the proper tools to fix a flat tire is also a good idea. Whether it will be someone else changing the flat tire or you will be the one doing it yourself, having the right tools is the first key step. The tire wedges help keep your vehicle from rolling.


Though you might be tempted to use your phone as a source of light, it is best to save your battery, especially if you won’t be able to charge your phone. A flashlight is a better option – and offers brighter light, too. It will make it possible for you to analyze the extent of the emergency at night, and even signal someone for help. Remember always to have spare batteries.

Warm Clothes and Blanket

Keeping warm clothes and a blanket is essential, especially when temperatures drop, and your heater doesn’t work. Consider storing a thermal sleeping bag or a fleece blanket. Clothes like gloves, hats, and an extra sweater will be sure to keep you warm if you get stranded in cold places. Even during warmer months, temperatures can drop at night.

desert road

Food and Water

Store a few bottles of drinking water for drinking, and extra jugs for cooling your engine, in your trunk. Consider keeping some packets of electrolyte powered to add to your water to help you stay hydrated. Non-perishable food items and high-protein snack foods are also good to keep on hand in case you become stranded for a lengthy period of time. Energy bars are a great choice and last a while.


Our phones play an important role in our lives, from communication to telling the time to our navigation. So, if your phone dies, your emergency situation could get more challenging. To be proactive, try to keep an extra phone charger in your vehicle at all times.

If you use a power wheelchair or another medical device that requires power, be sure to carry extra chargers for those in your vehicle, as well.

Towel and/or Cleaning Wipes

Depending on the type of situation you find yourself in, a towel or cleaning wipes may come in handy. You could need to clean up a spill in the vehicle or wipe your hands off.

These are just a few items that could go along way to making your unfortunate situation a little easier. So, grab a duffle bag or plastic storage tub and keep all these items somewhere accessible for a rainy day!

Peace of Mind with VMI Assurance

If you do find yourself on the side of the road, you won’t have to be there long with VMI Assurance. No one likes getting stranded in a broken-down vehicle, but we know that for a driver or passenger with mobility challenges, that situation can be much more than an inconvenience. Unfortunately, most roadside service or repair companies aren’t typically equipped to assist with getting accessible vehicles back on the road, and they’re especially not prepared to transport individuals with mobility challenges. Well, at VMI, we’re all about fixing problems for our customers. That’s why we partnered with Mobility Roadside Assistance™ (MRA) and At-Home Service™ provided by Wrench, Inc. to deliver the VMI Assurance program—an exclusive solution offered by VMI.

informative graphic about VMI Assurance program

Through our VMI Assurance program, we will provide one year of complimentary roadside assistance for customers who purchase a new or used vehicle with a new conversion from AMS Vans. What makes this different from other roadside services is that in addition to taking care of the vehicle, Mobility Roadside Assistance (MRA) will also assist the driver and passengers with paratransit service, ensuring they don’t end up stranded on the side of the road!

Contact us to learn more today!

Los Angeles Fined over No Emergency Plan for Residents with Disabilities

Los Angeles Fined for Lack of Disability Disaster Evacuation Plan

Last week, in a 10-0 vote, a payment of $2.1 million dollars for legal fees was approved by the Los Angeles City Council. The vote resulted from a lawsuit filed by disability rights groups on behalf of an estimated 800,000 residents of the city who live with disabilities and no way to evacuate the city in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

wheelchair user during an emergency evacuation

U.S. District Court Judge Consuelo B. Marshall found that the city did not have a plan that would notify, evacuate, transport, or provide shelter for the city’s disabled population should disaster strike. Marshall stated that the city’s emergency plans “must be open and accessible to all of its residents,” and that the city’s current plan violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Because of the city’s failure to address their unique needs, individuals with disabilities are disproportionately vulnerable to harm in the event of an emergency or disaster,” the judge wrote.

santa monica earthquake damage

It was also noted that the city’s own Department on Disability report in 2008 concluded that disabled residents were “at-risk for suffering and death in disproportionate numbers.”

Shawna Parks, legal director of the Disability Rights Legal Center, along with other advocates, scrutinized the city’s 200-page emergency operations plan, which is available through public records requests. It was obvious that there was no consideration for the needs of the disabled. The need for city evacuation plans that include the disabled was highlighted during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, when death rates among the disabled and elderly were significantly higher than those of able-bodied residents.

a wheelchair user during emergency evacuation for Hurricane Katrina

Officials were ordered to meet with the parties that brought the lawsuit, which included Actively Living Independent and Audrey Harthorn, a San Fernando resident who uses a wheelchair. The city has three years to rewrite the evacuation plan, and must address the needs of the city’s disabled population.

The $2.1 million awarded for legal fees will be paid to the legal team of Disability Rights Advocates.


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Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Where will you, your family, your friends or personal caregiver be when an emergency or disaster strikes?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 54 million Americans have a disability.  This number represents about one-fifth of the U.S. population.  Recent Harris polls indicate that over half of the disabled population not only don’t have a plan,  they have no idea who to contact for assistance in preparing for a disaster.

According to a survey released by The National Organization on Disability, 46 percent of people with disabilities, like those people in wheelchairs, say they do not know whom to contact about emergency plans for their community in the event of a terrorist attack or other crisis. 53 percent say that they have no plans to quickly and safely evacuate their home.  34 percent of those who are employed say that no plans have been made to safely evacuate their workplace.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires that response and emergency preparedness programs be accessible to those with disabilities. President Bush gave an executive order that created the Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and individuals with Disabilities.  Unfortunately the council only “encourages” state and local jurisdictions to consider special needs in its planning.

Disabled-rights advocates say that those with disabilities have concerns that most non disabled people may not consider during an emergency.  Traditional evacuation plans which usually rely on at the very least some walking, driving, seeing and hearing, are not appropriate for many with disabilities.

Everyone needs a plan and there are things you can do now to be prepared.

1. Learn about the types of disasters that may impact your community like blizzards,
earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados or floods. You can get more information from
your local Emergency Management Office

2. Find out what plans are in place.  Look over those plans to see if they have
considered your special needs

3. Make a list of your needs before during and after a disaster

4. Create your own Emergency Plan for home, work, and school

5. Pack a “ready kit” and go bag with essential items to take with you if you must
leave immediately. Also store supplies in your mobility vehicle.

Emergency Preparedness Suggestions for Mobility Disabilities

1. Extra battery for your motorized wheelchair or scooter

2. Heavy gloves to use while wheeling or make your way over glass and debris

3. Patch kit to repair flat tires

4. Spare cane or walker

5. Jumper cables or recharging device

6. Minimum two-week supply of medicine or prescriptions

7. Make sure your wheelchair van or mobility vehicle has a full tank of gas

8. Register with your local utility company if you are electricity dependent because
of medical equipment. They can flag your home to bring power up quickly.
Consider getting a generator and battery backups

Emergency Preparedness Suggestions for Sensory Disabilities

1.  Pad and paper, pens and pencils

2.  Extra batteries for tape recorders, portable teletype phone, etc

3.  Folding mobility cane or walker

4.  Food and medicine for your service animal

5.  Plastic bags, disposable gloves, and other items for your service animal

6.  Minimum two-week supply of medicine or prescriptions

Other Emergency Preparedness Considerations for Disabilities

1. Create a support network of friends and family to help you in an emergency

2. Be sure your support network knows where you keep your emergency supplies

3. Give one member of your support network a key to your house or apartment

4. Contact your city or county government’s emergency information and
management office.  Many local offices keep lists of people with disabilities so
they can be located quickly in a sudden emergency

5. Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to help identify your disability

6. If you are dependent on dialysis or other life sustaining treatment, know
the location of more than one facility

7. Show others how to operate your wheelchair and wheelchair vehicle lift

8. Make sure that you and your support network have each others contact
information and alternate ways to communicate if phones are out

A disaster can strike at any time – sometimes without warning. Planning and careful attention to detail is the best way to create an effective disaster plan.