Emergency Preparedness for Those With Access/Functional Needs

March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and the beginning of spring, so
now is a good time to make an emergency preparedness plan, taking in mind those with access
and functional needs.

While disabilities can affect a person in a variety of ways – some may be visible and others not –
it is important to consider each individual’s needs to prepare for an emergency or disaster

When looking at an emergency plan for yourself or a loved one with access and functional
needs, you should consider:

Make a plan that includes a support network.
▪ Create a reliable network of people who can help in disaster situations.
▪ Keep the support network informed and up-to-date with the emergency plan and the
location of emergency supplies. You may want to consider giving a trusted family member or
friend a key to the residence.
▪ Communicate with neighbors who can assist if evacuation is needed from the
▪ Many city and county emergency management agencies maintain voluntary registries
for people with disabilities to self-identify in order to receive targeted assistance during
emergencies and disasters. Contact your local emergency management office to find out more.

If there is a service animal and/or pets, include them in the emergency plan.
▪ Include a plan for the service/support animal and any pets’ food, water and supplies.If
evacuated, you’ll need to know whether the shelter allows pets or not, since some shelters only
allow service/support animals.

Make a plan that accounts for medical needs.
▪ Wear medical alert tags/bracelets.
▪ Add pertinent medical information to electronic devices including lists of medications,
insurance information, medical device information and model numbers, etc.
▪ If medical equipment is used in the home that requires electricity, talk to the doctor or
health care provider about what may be done to keep it running during a power outage. You can
also ask the power provider to put the residence on a list for priority power restoration.
▪ If on dialysis or other life-sustaining medical treatment, know the location of more than
one facility that can help.
▪ If using a power wheelchair, have a lightweight manual one available as a backup. Also
purchase an extra battery and keep it charged.

Make a plan that accounts for accessible transportation.
▪ Keep a list of nearby medical facilities, hospitals and the nearest mode of
▪ Plan ahead for accessible transportation that may be needed for evacuation or getting
around during or after a disaster. Check with local transit providers as well as with the
emergency management agency to identify appropriate accessible options.

Build a kit that fits the specific needs.
▪ Beyond storing traditional emergency supplies, remember to store important medical
information and instruction, medications and aids.
▪ Keep a list of contacts in a watertight case in the emergency kit and on electronic

Tips for preparing a kit with medications.
▪ Talk to the doctor/pharmacist about how to create an emergency supply of medicines.
▪ Keep a list of prescription medicines. Include information about diagnosis, dosage,
frequency, medical supply needs and allergies.
▪ Store extra nonprescription drugs, like pain/fever relievers, antihistamines and
antidiarrheal medicines.
▪ Have a cooler and chemical ice packs available to chill medicines that need

Tips for people who are deaf/hard of hearing or have a communication disability.
▪ Weather radio (with text display and a flashing alert)
▪ Extra hearing-aid batteries
▪ Pen and paper (in case you have to communicate with someone who does not know
sign language)
▪ Battery operated lantern to enable communication by sign language or lip reading,
especially when the electricity is out and it’s dark.
▪ Consider carrying printed cards/storing information on electronic devices to inform
others how to communicate with you.

“The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department wants all of our residents to be prepared for an
emergency so everyone can be safe,” said Derek Wilson, Threat Preparedness Coordinator.

For more information on specialized preparedness, visit www.ready.gov/disability.