Disaster Preparedness for
People with Functional and/or Access Needs
Being prepared for emergencies can reduce the fear, panic, and inconvenience surrounding a disaster.
Complete the Ability Self AssessmentPDF 373KB to help you determine what type of help you will need in an emergency.
Check for hazards in the home
During and right after a disaster, ordinary items in the home can cause injury or damage. Anything that can move, fall, break or cause fire is a home hazard.
Check for items such as bookcases, hanging pictures, or overhead lights that could fall in an earthquake or a flood and block an escape path.
Be ready to evacuate
Have a plan for getting out of your home or building (ask your family or friends for assistance, if necessary). Also, plan two evacuation routes because some roads may be closed or blocked in a disaster. Visit the Evacuation webpage for more information.
Have disaster supplies on hand.
Maintain a list of the following important items and store it with the disaster kit supplies. Give a copy to another family member and a friend or neighbor.
Special equipment and supplies, e.g., hearing aid batteries
Current prescriptions names and dosages
Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of doctors and pharmacist
Detailed information about the specifications of your medication regime
Create a self-help network of relatives, friends or co-workers to assist in an emergency.
If you think you may need assistance in a disaster, discuss your disability with relatives, friends, and co-workers and ask for their help. Make sure your workplace, church or anywhere you spend a good deal of time is aware that you may need special assistance during an emergency. For example, if you need help moving or require special arrangements to receive emergency messages, make a plan with friends.
Make sure they know where you keep emergency supplies. Give a key to a neighbor or friend who may be able to assist you in a disaster.
Wearing medical alert tags or bracelets to identify your disability may help in case of an emergency.
Know the location and availability of more than one facility if you are dependent on a dialysis machine or other life-sustaining equipment or treatment.
If you have a severe speech, language, or hearing disability:
When you dial 9-1-1, tap space bar to indicate TDD call.
Store a writing pad and pencils to communicate with others.
Keep a flashlight handy to signal whereabouts to other people and for illumination to aid in communication.
Remind friends that you cannot completely hear warnings or emergency instructions. Ask them to be your source of emergency information as it comes over their radio.
If you have a hearing ear dog, be aware that the dog may become confused or disoriented in an emergency. Store extra food, water and supplies for your dog.
Test various ways to communicate: landline, cell phone, texting and email.
Planning for evacuation
People with disabilities have the same choices as other community residents about whether to evacuate their homes and where to go when an emergency threatens.
Ask your employer to practice evacuating you during fire drills.
Listen to the advice of local officials. Decide whether it is better to leave the area, stay with a friend or go to a public shelter. Each of these decisions requires planning and preparation. Always have a back-up plan and practice it.
If you need a wheelchair
Show friends how to operate your wheelchair so they can move you if necessary. Make sure your friends know the size of your wheelchair in case it has to be transported.