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Disaster Preparation For People With Disabilities

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita revealed how vulnerable... residents are in emergency situations. Evacuation plans in most major cities across America fail to adequately take into account the needs of the elderly, disabled, and transit dependent populations.
National Conference On Disaster Planning for the Careless Society

IF you are not disabled please take time to read and use this information to help disabled friends, loved ones, patients or others who you may be concerned with. Use these resources to develop a plan with them. Please refer others who need this information to this page so they can use these resources.



Recommendations For People with Disabilities:
Much of this information is Courtesy of


  • Create a support network to help in an emergency.

A support network should be people you see regularly.

  • Family that live nearby.
  • Trustworthy Neighbors.
  • Friends.
  • Nurses and Home care professionals.

If you live in a disaster prone area, speak to these individuals before hand about your concerns if a disaster should strike and find out what help is available. Buld a support network from those willing to help.

  • Tell these people where you keep your emergency supplies.
  • Give one member (family or trustworthy friend) of your support network a key to your house or apartment.

    A member of your support network may need to get into your home in a emergency to reach you or retrieve needed supplies.

  • Contact your city or county government's emergency information management office. Many local offices keep lists of people with disabilities so they can be located quickly in a sudden emergency.
  • Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to help identify your disability.
  • If you are dependent on dialysis or other life sustaining treatment, know the location and availability of more than one facility.

    Speak directly to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals so that you have a plan B ahead of any need. Do Not wait until the emergency arises.

  • Show others how to operate your wheelchair.
  • Know the size and weight of your wheelchair, in addition to whether or not it is collapsible, in case it has to be transported.
  • Additional Supplies for People with Disabilities:
    • Prescription medicines, list of medications including dosage, list of any allergies.
    • Extra eyeglasses and hearing-aid batteries.
    • Extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen.
    • Keep a list of the style and serial number of medical devices.
    • Medical insurance and Medicare cards.
    • List of doctors, relatives or friends who should be notified if you are hurt.

    These items including important documents (Medical insurance and Medicare cards.) Should be where they can be accessed in a moments notice and packed securely in case of a evacuation.

Develop Your Personal Plan

Emergency preparedness is the preparation and planning necessary to effectively handle an emergency. This means developing a emergency plan that identifies services you require, and what resources you need to have on hand in case of an emergency. Emergency plans should be discussed with loved ones and a copy of you plan should be given to them so they know what to do, as well as care givers and other relevant parties.

When it comes to emergency planning, you know yourself and your needs the best, so you are the ideal person to create your personalized emergency preparedness plan. When creating your personal preparedness plan, it is vital to identify the following:

  1. The responsible party for carrying out specific actions;

    Who will carry out each part of the plan. Who will you call to put the plan in action. Who will you call if everything is ok. What will you do if the phone doesn't work. (Place a help sign in the window? Sound a alarm? Use a whistle? Use a hand held horn? Some other action that will alert another party who has agreed to help?) What will each person do to evacuate you or get more help.

  2. Personnel, equipment, supplies, medications and needs specific to You.

    Make a list of all the things you use each day or will need.
    For example, Oxygen and extra bottles, Medicines, any special medical equipment, clothing and so on.
    Speak to nurses to find out what to do in a emergency and how to get more oxygen if needed.
    Knowing the answers to important questions ahead of time will give you peace of mind and make a bad situation much more bearable.

  3. Emergency contact information;

    You should have phone numbers at hand (where you can reach them) of doctors, nurses, family, friends, police, fire, ambulance, hospital, health department and any other number where you can reach others for help.

  4. Other resources available for use in the emergency;

    Find out what is available through all local organizations, healthcare and goverment as well as friends and relatives.

  5. An outline of how all actions will be coordinated.

Depending on your disability, your specific emergency plan may need to include resources on:

  1. The Type of assistance you need and instructions on how to obtain needed resources;

  2. Coordination of the transportation for yourself, and payment and delivery of supplies or medicines.

Mobility Issues

For those who are in a wheel chair or cannot get around print the following brochure.

Click Here For A Printable FEMA Brochure for those with mobility disabilities. (PDF)

This brochure covers many practical issues in making a plan.

Other Resources to help in your planning

Evacuating Wheel Chair Users

Earthquake Tips for People Mobility Disabilities

Senior Citizens

Emergency Preparedness for Older People (PDF)

Develop A Disaster Plan for Older Distant Relatives

Fire Risks for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (PDF)

Emergency Planning for Long Term Care / Seniors Nursing Home Residential-Care-Facilities

Cognitive Disabilities

Tips for people with Cognitive Disabilities

Visual Disabilities

Tips for Persons with Vision Loss in Fires (PDF)
Appendix in U.S. Fire Administrations’ guide for persons with vision disabilities in fires. Tips for People with Visual Disabilities
American Red Cross’ guide for persons with vision disabilities in emergencies. Earthquake Tips for Persons with Vision Disabilities
American Red Cross' guide for persons with vision disabilities in earthquakes.

Hearing and Speech Disabilities

Psychiatric Disabilities

Tips for People with Psychiatric Disabilities
American Red Cross’ tips for persons with psychiatric disabilities during emergencies.

Resources for Coping with Disaster
MedlinePlus' resources for coping with a disaster.

National Academies Press Publication's Guide on the Psychological Consequences of Terrorism Events
National Academies Press Publication's guide on the psychological consequences of terrorism events.

Blueprint for Responding to Public Mental Health Needs in Times of Crises
National Mental Health Association's guide to mental health needs during emergencies.

Tips for People with Psychiatric Disabilities
American Red Cross' tips for persons with psychiatric disabilities during emergencies.

Earthquake Tips for Persons with Psychiatric Disabilities
American Red Cross' guide for persons with psychiatric disabilities during earthquakes.

Children With Special Health Care Needs

Emergency Planning for Families of Children and Youth with Special Health Needs
Emergencies or disasters are difficult for most families, but for those with special needs, the ability to manage can become more difficult. Planning is critical in minimizing the effects of disasters and emergencies.

Emergency Preparedness for Children with Special Needs
The information on this page is a checklist to use for emergency planning for a child with special needs.

Emergency Preparedness for Children with Special Health Care Needs
Emergency preparedness resources from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Service Animals

Tips for People with Service Animals or Pets
American Red Cross’ guide for owners of service animals during emergencies.

Disaster Preparedness and Response Program
American Veterinary Medical Association's guide for pet and service animal care during emergencies.

Earthquake Tips for Owners of Service Animals
Red Cross' tips for service animals.

How to Make Points of Service Accessible to Persons with Disabilities
Disabled People & Disaster Planning's guide on emergency services accessibility.

Disaster Preparedness for Pets
Humane Society of the United States guide on emergency preparedness planning for pets.

Other Disabilities

Tips for People with Life Support Systems
American Red Cross’s emergency preparedness planning tips for persons on life support systems.

Red Cross: Tips for People with Disabilities and Medical Concerns
American Red Cross emergency preparedness planning tips for persons with disabilities and medical concerns.

Tips for People with Environmental or Chemical Sensitivities
American Red Cross’ tips for persons with environmental or chemical sensitivities during emergencies.

Diabetes During Emergencies and Disasters
BD Diabetes' emergency preparedness guide for persons with diabetes.






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