Disabilities and special needs

Habitat Ready: Disaster preparedness for homeowners

Disabilities and special needs can make it challenging to prepare for and respond to a disaster. Often, people with disabilities and special needs require assistance and additional lead time when a disaster strikes.

If you or someone you know needs assistance, it is important to plan ahead, because there may be additional steps to take in order to properly prepare for a disaster.

Practical tips for those with special needs

The following list, while not exhaustive, provides some practical tips for those with special needs.

  • Design a family preparedness plan that takes into consideration any special needs you may have.
  • Create a family communications plan that accounts for your specific communication needs.
  • Assemble a disaster supply kit that includes any necessary personal supplies, medications or equipment.
  • Design a family evacuation plan that takes into consideration any challenges you may face while evacuating.
  • Establish a support network:
    • Include family, friends, neighbors or co-workers who can help you prepare and get you to a safe place during a disaster.
    • They should be people you trust, should know your capabilities and needs, and should be available to help on short notice.
  • Post emergency instructions on the refrigerator. Include medications, necessary equipment information and emergency contacts.
  • Prepare for loss of electrical power:
    • Find alternative ways to charge your medical equipment and communication devices.
    • Plan ahead for medications that require refrigeration.
  • Keep extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, catheters, medications, etc., on hand.
  • Register with your city, county or state office of emergency management, along with the local police and fire departments, disability organizations and community groups.
  • Consider getting a medical alert system that will allow you to call for help if you are immobilized in an emergency.
  • If you are mobility-impaired and live or work in a high-rise building, have an escape chair.
  • Carry medical information and emergency contacts on you at all times.
  • When calling 911, tap the space bar to engage the TDD system.

Additional resources

Emergency/preparedness information

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