Emergency Preparedness

An emergency can happen at any time, and it is essential to be prepared. Below are tips about emergency preparedness for people with disabilities.

General Tips

  • Plan to be on your own for at least 3 days after a disaster.
  • Telephones, power, and transportation services may be disrupted.
  • Review, drill, and update plans and equipment at least every 6 months.
  • Include any service animals in drills.
  • If you use walking aids, always keep them near you.
  • Practice telling first reponders about the best way to assist you.
  • Anticipate reactions you may have after a disaster and plan strategies for coping with them.
  • NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio can be set to alert you to natural or man-made disasters by audible alarm, visual strobe alarm, or vibration alerts. For more information, see www.weather.gov.

Ready Kit

It’s a good idea to keep a bag containing the supplies you would need in an emergency, just in case you need to leave in a hurry. Be sure to label all items and keep the kit handy. These are suggested supplies to include:
  • Battery-operated flashlight, radio, TV
  • All medications and cooler (if necessary); list of prescriptions
  • 1-week supply of non-perishable food that meets your dietary needs; manual can opener
  • 1 gallon of water per person per day; more if needed (ask your doctor)
  • Cash, credit cards, checkbook, ATM card
  • Any necessary medical equipment and assistive devices (e.g. oxygen and portable unit, hearing aids, walkers, glasses)
  • Towels, masks, industrial respirators, etc., for chemical sensitivities, respiratory condition, etc.
  • If applicable, items for infants, e.g. formula, diapers
  • Important documents (photo ID, birth certificates, proof of address, medical insurance, etc.)
  • Supplies for any service animals, including food, ID tags, etc.
  • Emergency list (see below)


  • Identify possible disasters in your community.
  • Learn emergency plans in workplace, community, apartment building, etc.
  • Evaluate your needs during a disaster and the help you may need.
  • Make safety officials, employers, teachers, building managers, etc., aware of your abilties and limitations.
  • Review this information with your personal support network.

Personal Support Network

  • Identify people to assist you before, during, and after emergencies.
  • Include friends, family, co-workers, personal attendants, or others at home, work, and other places you spend time.
  • Make a communications plan.
  • Tell your support network about your assistance needs and how to operate any equipment.
  • Give them a copy of your emergency list (see below) and spare key.

Emergency List

Make a list (paper or audio) with important information in different locations, including:
  • Doctor’s contact information
  • Personal suppot network (see above) contact information
  • Medication information: name, dosage, frequency.
  • Equipment information:name, supplier, serial number.
  • Service providers’ contact information.
  • Written information describing your abilities and limitations.

Preparing for Evacuations

  • Leave when ordered or when in immediate danger.
  • Include your needs in evacuation plans at home, workplace, etc.
  • Identify 2 escape routes for every room.
  • Keep distress flags, whistles, beepers close.
  • Tell others about your needs (e.g. ramps, alerts, audible instructions).
  • Write directions about equipment and safe transport methods.
  • Set a meeting place near and outside the area.
  • Plan for transportation disruptions.


  • Make a plan to stay with family and friends.
  • Find out which shelters have accessible accommodations.
  • Bring special equipment (oxygen, mobility aids).
  • Make a plan for any pets, as service animals are allowed in shelters but pets usually are not.
  • If sheltering in place, follow instructions from officials.
  • Prepare a kit of supplies to take with you (see above).

Service Providers

  • Identify your regular service providers (home health care, personal assistance services, transportaion, meals, etc.).
  • Learn about their emergency plans and emergency contact information.
  • Ask them how services will continue during emergencies.
  • Keep all service providers’ numbers on your emergency list.
  • Maintain a list of alternate service and equipment providers.

Information provided by EAD and Associates, LLC: Emergency Management & Special Needs Consultants.