Disaster Preparedness: Evacuating and Sheltering

Agricultural Disaster Preparedness and Recovery, Family Caregiving February 11, 2014 Print Friendly and PDF

Considerations for Evacuating and Sheltering

How Can I Shelter in Place?

There are a number of important things you should do to prepare to shelter in place, especially if you plan to shelter in your home. One of the most important things is to prepare a disaster kit for remaining at home. This kit should include water, food, clothing, bedding, first aid needs, prescription and non-prescription medicines, sanitation and special individual requirements, and important documents.

For specifics on exactly what to assemble, see A Disaster Kit for Staying at Home: www.ces.ncsu.edu/disaster/factsheets/html/96.html.

In addition to the standard disaster kit, caregivers may need to gather and prepare other items. The following suggestions are from the Mississippi State Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency:

  • Special equipment for feeding or respiration
  • Special foods to meet dietary requirements
  • Equipment for personal care, such as a shower bench
  • Regular medical treatments, such as dialysis
  • Communications equipment, such as adaptive hearing or sight devices
  • Backup for electricity-dependent equipment
  • Medicine or prescriptions for a minimum of two weeks
  • Mobility aids, such as a wheelchair or walker
  • Service animals and their food and care items

Preparation for Access and Functional Needs

Evacuation is difficult under any circumstances, but evacuating someone who needs special care requires extra planning. Fortunately, Red Cross has designated specific sites in each locale as "special needs or medical needs shelters."

Special needs shelters are prepared with staff, equipment and basic medical supplies to provide ongoing care for people whose medical conditions require more care than the typical Red Cross shelter can provide but who do not require hospitalization. Most special needs shelters require you to preregister.

To find out where your local special needs shelters are located and to preregister, contact your city or county emergency management agency. For more detailed information about preparations for access and functional needs, visit http://www.ready.gov/individuals-access-functional-needs.

Will a Service Animal Be Allowed Into the Shelter?

When told to evacuate, it will be important to take the service animal with you. However, check with the local sheltering authority to see if service animals are allowed at evacuation facilities.

Many states designate shelters that allow animals. Other shelters may prohibit them.

Be sure to plan ahead for the supplies the service animal will need, as you are preparing your own supplies. The animal will need food, water, medications, sanitary and other types of supplies to evacuate safely. Shelters may require documentation that the animal is a service animal and that it has been vaccinated.

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