By now, I'm sure you've seen the pictures of the wildfires that charred Maui, Hawaii. As I write this, a week after the blaze, The Associated Press reports that more than 100 people have been killed, and the governor expects "scores more." Some neighborhoods are gone. People literally ran from the flames. But my multiple sclerosis (MS) makes running impossible, and walking unlikely. Watching video of the fire leaping from house to house, I thought, "What would I do?" A hurricane, a tornado, a blizzard, or even just an extended power outage can leave someone like me in a difficult, and possibly life-threatening, situation. A few years ago, I wrote a column asking "Is Your MS Ready for a Disaster?" Is yours? It's a question that everyone whose mobility is impaired — or who's just in need of regular medical assistance — should consider. If you had to evacuate your home or office, how would you do it, where would you go, and how would you get there? And what if you couldn't evacuate? Plans for people with MS. Researchers at the University of Miami's Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine have considered that question — specifically regarding people with MS and hurricanes — and are proposing guidelines that healthcare professionals can use to help their MS patients create disaster plans. The guidelines, published this year in the International Journal of MS Care, consider more than a dozen areas of concern, including mobility problems, cognitive and sensory impairments, the potential for MS relapses, financial problems, and the likelihood that healthcare systems will be disrupted during a hurricane. They also advise finding at least three neighbors willing and able to help during a disaster, having a standard wheelchair available to replace a scooter or power chair during a power failure, and buying an evacuation chair, which is similar to the small chair sometimes used to help a person with a disability board an aircraft. It'd be used to carry an MS patient down the stairs in the event elevators aren't working. Registering in advance with local governments for evacuation assistance and medical shelters is another suggestion. (Registration is required for a special needs shelter in Florida.) And there are the usual recommendations to keep several days of food, water, and medication on hand. What's new, and great, is having healthcare professionals work with their patients to develop these plans. It almost happened to me. I had a close call with a Category 5 hurricane a little less than a year ago, when the eye of Hurricane Ian came ashore over the small Florida town where my wife and I spend seven months of the year. Fortunately, we were in Maryland at the time. Also fortunately, our apartment had relatively little damage. But our community had significant destruction. Able-bodied neighbors who decided to ride out the storm swear they'll never do it again. I don't think we would've survived if we'd been there and opted to stay. The only option for us, and for our cat and dog, is to evacuate well in advance of a storm. We have locations picked out and know what we'll take. We couldn't have survived four days with no power (or air conditioning) and two days without water, nor could we have made it down three flights of stairs to get to an outside propane grill to cook. And the storm doesn't end after the sun comes out. Recovering from a hurricane — or any disaster, for that matter — can be expensive, and it may take a long time for an insurance company to pay a claim. According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, many claims for Ian damage have never been paid. Has your healthcare provider had a disaster talk with you? In their guidelines, the University of Miami researchers write: "It is increasingly important to assist persons with MS in their readiness for such catastrophic storms. Health care providers are well-positioned to help their patients with MS identify their needs in the event of a disaster and take appropriate steps to improve their emergency preparedness. Moreover, [healthcare providers] are essential in ensuring that the needs of their patients are met in a storm’s aftermath." Indeed they are, but I wonder how many have considered the role that they can, and should, play in mitigating a disaster's effects on their patients. I don't know if these guidelines would've helped someone with MS prepare for the fires in Hawaii, but I bet they'll help in preparing for the next hurricane. You're invited to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com. Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.