Preparing for a disaster if you are disabled or have special needs

Information provided by FEMA and the American Red Cross

If you or someone you know is disabled or has special needs, follow these steps to develop a disaster preparedness plan.

Create a personal support network
Include a minimum of three people in your network from places where you spend a lot of time including your home, work, school, volunteer site or any other places.  They should know your capabilities and needs and be able to provide help within minutes.

Get informed
Learn about the community response to a disaster, evacuation plans and designated shelters.

Make a plan
Meet with your family/personal care attendant/building manager.  Review the information you gathered about community hazards and emergency plans.
Choose an out of town contact.  Ask an out of town relative or friend to be your contact.
Decide where to meet.  In the event of an emergency you may be separated from your family.  Choose a location outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home.

Action checklist - Things to do before a disaster

  • Learn what to do in case of power outages and personal injuries.  Know how to connect and start a back-up power supply for essential medical equipment.
  • Consider getting a medical alert system that will allow you to call for help if you are immobilized during an emergency.
  • If you have an electric wheelchair or scooter, have a manual wheelchair for backup.
  • Teach those who may need to assist you how to operate your medical equipment.  Also, label equipment and attach laminated instructions for use.
  • Store backup equipment at a neighbor or family member's home
  • If you are vision impared, deaf or hard of hearing, plan ahead for someone to convey essential emergency information if you are unable to use the TV or radio.
  • If you use a personal care attendant from an agency, check to see if there are special provisions for emergencies (like providing care in another location if evacuation is ordered).
  • Be prepared to provide clear, specific information to rescue personnel.  Practice giving these instructions verbally clearly and quickly.