Regency Residents Create Emergency Backpacks

Friday, May 11, 2012
Emile, a Regency staff member, assists Vicki, a Regency resident, fill her Emergency Backpack.

With tornado season upon us, it is important to remember that preparation can mean the difference between life and death. After a major disaster, it can take hours or even days for emergency personnel to reach you. Having enough food, water, and other supplies to last at least 72 hours is essential to help ensure your survival after an emergency.

Agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross recommend having an emergency supply kit on hand. Prepare now for all kinds of emergencies from fire and floods to potential terrorist attacks. For individuals with special needs or disabilities, advance preparation is especially important.

The Association for persons with Intellectual Disabilities (AID) and Regency Management recently assisted the residents of the Regency apartments and group home in assembling emergency backpacks. While any type of container will work, backpacks were chosen because of their durability, storage capacity, and convenience. Each backpack contains sufficient supplies to ensure basic needs are met for a minimum of three days following an emergency situation. Items included were chosen based on recommendations from FEMA and the Red Cross, as well as specific items tailored to meet the personal needs of individuals with developmental disabilities.

"It's good to have if something were to happen," said Teri Schrader, a resident of Regency House of Cape. "If there is a fire, instead of thinking frantically, what should I do, I can run and get the backpack."

Mary Jane DeBrock, a resident of Regency Terrace of Cape, an eight-bedroom group home, agreed.

"It's a very good idea," DeBrock said. "If there is a tornado or a fire you will have it."

Disaster Supplies Kit

The following list is a sampling of the items the residents have in their kits:

Flashlight with batteries

Small first aid kit

Waterproof matches

Multi-tool (knife, screwdriver, scissors, tweezers, etc.)

Water purification tablets

Latex disposable gloves

Dust mask

Toiletries (travel-size)

Rain poncho


3,600 Calorie food bars (rationed for 1,200 calories per day; have a 5-year shelf life)

Water boxes with attached straws (have a 5-year shelf life)

Identification cards and medication information

Sleeping bag

In addition to each resident having his/her own emergency backpack, additional backpacks were filled for staff members who remain on-site in the apartments. Their backpacks are similar to the residents' backpacks with the addition of a weather radio, a large flashlight with batteries, and a large first aid kit.

Determining what items to include in your household emergency kit depends on your personal circumstances. Include extra items such as games for children, formula and diapers for infants, cards or puzzle books, or copies of prescriptions and medications for elderly individuals, as needed. For a complete list of suggestions, visit

Disaster Preparation

Historically in Missouri, May is the most active month for tornadoes, so now is the time to make sure you are prepared for potential disasters.

It is important to have a plan in place prior to an emergency, including knowing where all the exits of your home are and designating a safe meeting place in the event you have to evacuate your home. Schedule drills so each member of your household knows what to do in the event of an emergency.

At the Regency apartments, for example, monthly emergency drills are held for threats such as tornadoes and fires. For each emergency, the residents know to grab their backpacks, find their assigned buddies, and together they walk to the designated safety location to wait with the other residents. The on-site staff members then direct the group as to whether evacuation is necessary or if the threat has been eliminated. Having an emergency "buddy" helps the residents to look out for each other in situations where they could end up separated from the rest of the group.

To further facilitate the plans, several residents of the apartments have completed a 20-hour Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training course. The CERT course comprises hands-on training in a variety of tasks including bandaging a victim's arm, putting out a fire, and searching for and carrying people out of a building.

"I think I'll be able to use [what I learned in the class] when it comes down to it," said Crystal Garner, a Regency resident who completed the training. "I'll need to get a hold of others who were trained and then do what we are supposed to do."

Garner feels confident that she could help her neighbors out of the building and feel the emergency backpacks are a good idea to have.

"I could carry two [backpacks] if I needed to," she added.

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