Prepping with disabilities
Disabilities happen. If you are fortunate enough to avoid hereditary, accidental, and illness disabilities, then military, job related, and age related disabilities team up to complicate many folks’ lives. There are so many ways to become disabled, that for many folks, it is not so much a matter of ‘if’ as ‘when’ they will joining the ranks of the disabled. Disabilities make prepping even more critical; because they make one more vulnerable to losing the special aids they need to survive, and the disability funds they depend on.
For example, I had a spouse with a CPAP. As recommended by his doctor (and the electric company itself) I called the power company to advise them of his disability. Then I asked them if that meant we would get power restored any quicker if it went out. No. I asked if someone would bring him a way to power his CPAP so he would not die in his sleep if the power went out. No. I asked if they would be more understanding on payments if his Social Security check was late. No. Finally, (getting miffed) I asked just why the electric company wanted me to call and let them know a disabled person lived at our address. For their records, not to aid the disabled person. I remember thinking, “Well, that’s one more reason we prep….”
Having disabilities modifies many preps. With physical disabilities, bugging out becomes harder (if not impossible) so you need to pay more attention to hardening a bug-in location and choosing a bug-out location carefully. You need to monitor conditions more closely so you have extra time if you do choose bugging out, because it could take you considerably longer. Many physically disabled persons I know have devised many creative ways to handle day-to-day tasks in spite of their ‘disabilities’ so make sure you have extra tools or parts if you need them for any specialized equipment. How about a solar charger to keep your 12-volt batteries charged for your electric chair or cart? Do you have a non-electric backup chair (with spare parts)? Extra prosthetics? Spare glasses, hearing aid batteries, CPAP, and oxygen concentrator parts are critical to you, so stash some. Research how people with your particular disability historically handled things without electricity, transportation, and modern conveniences, and improve upon those techniques.
Dietary restrictions may require you to store different foods. If you can’t eat wheat, store more rice. If you are diabetic, and carbohydrates are bad for you in large amounts, store more canned meats and vegetables. It might be advantageous to learn to can and dehydrate your own storage foods to suit your dietary requirements. Sugarless, low-sodium, low carbohydrate, low fat, and all other dietary restrictions are easily handled when you do it yourself, but prohibitively expensive (provided you can find such foods) to purchase. More than ever you need to look for good sales and plan ahead.
Are you bugging out? How will you transport your equipment, spare parts and batteries? Do you have a solid place to go to that is set up for your special needs? If not, then bugging-in might be a more useful plan. If your home is a designated ‘bug in’ location, you may be able to team up with others to make it more secure. Harden your location and see if you can recruit family members or friends to come on board and prep with you. Then set up your food, water, and equipment storage to include other team members and their needs. With my disabled spouse, our primary plan was to bug in, but I also bought a ‘deer carry cart’ (balanced and designed to carry heavy, unwieldy loads over rough terrain) large enough to hold our gear, plus him. The plan was to pull it wearing a harness, and he would be armed and watching our backs as we went. Of course it would be slow and arduous, so we were also working on devising a way to hook the cart to the folding 3-wheel bike when he passed away. We did have a 6 week without electricity ‘test’ when power lines went down in a major storm, and were quite comfy without electricity due to our prior preps.
You need to consider getting a concealed carry permit and a weapon you can easily access and operate, if your disabilities make you unable to run or fight back if attacked by human predators. Go to the range and learn to draw and shoot from your wheelchair, with a walker, or any other physical appliance you may need. Learn to shoot with either hand, and don’t hesitate to modify your firing techniques or weapon, if your hands have limitations. Can’t handle a firearm? How about an electric weapon?
Some medicines require refrigeration, so a 12-volt refrigerator with a battery hookup becomes part of your preps. Truck stops carry a wide range of 12-volt items which can be run off a marine deep-cycle battery, which can be recharged using a solar panel system. It would not be a large refrigerator, so you would need to store insulin unopened in a cool place, and keep the refrigerator for the opened insulin. Another option for the unopened insulin would be to keep it in an evaporation cooler (which you can make yourself) to lengthen its life. Stockpile other medicines as you are able. Some insurance companies will let you refill a week early – set aside that week’s meds each month in your stash. Many meds will last a year if kept cool and dry. Some will last far longer. Rotate them to keep them fresh.
Learn a useful skill you can use to increase your usefulness to others. Unfortunately, many in our society value people only for what they can do, and this quite probably will become more pronounced in a crisis. Learn to fix broken equipment, or mend clothing and shoes, or other low or no-tech ways of doing things that have been forgotten in modern times. If you can fix things, sew, or can make a hectographed duplicator (a non-electric mimeograph), you might find a new niche for yourself. Knowledge is valuable. Learn how to make biodiesel, or ethanol, or some other thing that others will almost certainly want. But use caution, so that your ‘value’ is not based on your equipment instead of what is in your head, lest you tempt others to simply kill you and take your equipment for themselves.
I must also mention mental disabilities. If you take medicine, you need to stockpile extra or find out if there are any alternative (herbal and legal) medicines you can use instead in case supplies are disrupted. Then learn to grow, or forage them if at all possible. The way persons with mental disabilities were treated before the new medicines came out was very different and quite draconian. So you definitely need to prep so as to avoid making yourself a target for those who fear those who are different, in case it gets that way again. If your disability is not treatable with medications, you need to plan to team up with someone who respects your limits and will work with you. Start looking around now, before things go critical. In some cases, a good bug-in is a case of “Out of sight, out of mind”.
Finally, you must begin now to make yourself as healthy and self-sufficient as possible. You may need to find an advocate who will fight like a tiger for your wishes when dealing with hospitals, doctors, and government bureaucracies (family member, or friend). You don’t really want to find yourself at the mercy of an overtaxed medical system, or a cash-strapped government program deciding whether you are ‘worth’ treating, or will be euthanized. (I sincerely hope that never becomes an option…the Nazis did that very thing to their own disabled vets, disabled citizens, and insane asylum patients just prior to WW2 and justified it by saying they were useless.)
Whatever you do, start now. It might take you a little longer, but as any disabled person knows very well, you can still do an awful lot once you start thinking up how to do things, rather than dwelling on how you can’t do things! Don’t be afraid to adapt plans to your disabilities, and you will find yourself a role-model prepper. By all means, let us know what and how you did, so we can share the information! Knowledge is power.