“Sensory Safe” Hurricane Evacuation Planning

Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 12:20 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - As natural disasters increase in frequency and severity, making an evacuation plan for what to do in case of a hurricane, wildfire, flood, or other severe weather event may be one of the most important plans that you make.

Safety is a priority for all parents, but parents of children with sensory differences face specific and unique concerns when considering how to best protect their child or children during a natural disaster.

PLANNING IS KEY. Katie Hamlin, a pediatric occupational therapist, joined us on Studio10 to talk about her Sensory Safe Evacuation Planner to prepare and make a plan to keep your family safe.

How to use the Planner:

1. In the first two sections, identify your child’s sensory patterns by circling the appropriate responses.

• Making a sensory smart plan starts with understanding your child’s sensory patterns.

• If you aren’t confident in answering these questions, ask an occupational therapist to help!

2. Identify where you will most likely go if you need to evacuate.

• This could be a relative’s home, public shelter, hotel, etc.

3. Consider your child’s sensory patterns and challenges, and how they might be impacted during an evacuation.

• Think about how your child’s typical sensory needs may be challenged in the evacuation location and during travel

4. List strategies to support your child in the identified challenge areas.

• Collaborating with an occupational therapist is a great way to get appropriate strategies.

• Check out the Resources tab at brainexecutiveprogram.com to see and share ideas!

5. Make a packing list of any supplies that you may need to address sensory challenges.

• Items may include noise-canceling headphones, fidget items, etc.

6. Print your plan and keep it on hand with your other hurricane evacuation supplies.

7. Share using #sensorysafeevacuation to help others prepare for evacuations!

8. Send your sensory smart strategies for hurricane evacuations to @brain_executive_program on Instagram or email them to kathryn@brainexecutiveprogram.com.

You can download the FREE Sensory Safe Evacuation Planner here.

About Katie:

Kathryn (Katie) Hamlin-Pacheco, M.S., OTR/L, is an occupational therapist, former teacher, and founder of the Brain Executive Program.  She has combined her clinical knowledge with her experience as an educator to create this program, aimed at empowering children and their families through everyday neuroscience to be the power-holders and change-makers in their own lives. Kathryn graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy, where she also worked with the Virginia Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities program to pursue her desire to be an advocate and leader in pediatric healthcare. She enjoys life with her husband, Justin, and their daughter, Mackenzie, wherever the military sends them.