Do You Have Special Needs? Plan for Evacuation

Agricultural Disaster Preparedness and Recovery, Family Caregiving November 10, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

sisters taking care of disabled brother on beach

Disaster preparedness includes having a plan for evacuations as they can be stressful and hectic. This is especially true if special needs are involved. If you have special needs or are caring for a family member at home, plan ahead for resources and services you and your loved one might need if you need to leave your home quickly.

You have two sources of help:

  • Your support network of family, friends and neighbors
  • Emergency professionals in the community

Here are some tips from the experts:

  • Create a support network to help you in an emergency.
  • Provide your family, friends and neighbors with a detailed description, in writing, of your needs.
  • Tell your support network where you keep your emergency supplies.
  • Give at least one member of your support network a key to your house or apartment.
  • Show others how to operate medical equipment (such as oxygen) that may be needed by the person for whom you are caring.

Contact your city or county government's emergency preparedness office. Let them know about your situation and ask to be included on a registry of people with disabilities who need to be reached quickly in case of an emergency. Be sure the care receiver wears a medical alert tag or bracelet to identify his or her disability. Have copies of any appropriate legal care documents handy.

If someone in your home uses a battery-operated wheelchair or uses a life-support system or other power-dependent equipment, call your power company. Many utility companies keep a list and map of the locations of power-dependent customers in case of an emergency. Utility workers will try to make your home a priority to get you reconnected as soon as possible. 

For more information and additional resources, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency website. Of particular note, this website has a section specifically aimed at helping you tailor a disaster plan for your needs.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.