For People with Disabilities
Disaster Readiness Tips for People with Disabilities is available online in text and PDF formats.
The text version of the Prepare Yourself pamphlet appears below; the PDF version can be viewed and printed using Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you already have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed, just click on the link below to download the document. If not, then first click on the Abobe icon below to download your free version of Acrobat Reader.
- Prepare Yourself: Disaster Readiness Tips for People with Disabilities (PDF Version)
- A text version of this document can be found below
Also available are Prepare Yourself brochures with specific information for people with different types of disabilities. These brochures can be viewed and downloaded by clicking on the links below:
- Disaster Readiness Tips for People with Mobility Disabilities
- Disaster Readiness Tips for People with Sensory Disabilities
- Disaster Readiness Tips for People with Developmental or Cognitive Disabilities
- Disaster Readiness Tips for Owners of Pets of Service Animals
To be better prepared as a nation, we all must do our part to plan for disasters. Individuals with or without disabilities can lessen the impact of a disaster by taking steps to prepare before an event occurs.
Results from focus groups conducted by the National Organization on Disability’s Emergency Preparedness Initiative (EPI) indicate that people with disabilities need to be more self reliant in emergencies.
You can take small steps every day to become better able to survive an emergency. Get informed, identify your resources, make a plan, and create a Ready Kit and a Go Bag. Start today to become better prepared, safer, and more secure.
- Learn about the types of hazards that may impact your community (blizzards, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and so on). You can get information from your local Emergency Management Office.
- Find out what emergency plans are in place in your community, workplace, service agencies, etc. Determine whether those plans have considered your functional needs.
- Identify the plan for notifying people when a disaster may be on its way or actually occurring.
- Consider how a disaster might affect your daily routines. Make a list of your specific needs before, during, and after a disaster.
If you use telecommunications relay services, look into back-up options in case relay services fail: dialing 711 (nationwide), CapTel (captioned telephone), Internet-based relay (through computer, text pager, PDA, etc.), and video relay services (through broadband).
Identify your Resources
Make a list of family, friends, co-workers, personal attendants, service providers, and others who can be part of your plan. Include people both in and outside of your immediate neighborhood or community, like a relative in another state. Talk to these people and ask them to be part of your support network.
Create an Emergency Plan
- Work with your support network to develop an emergency plan. Have a plan for home, work, school, or any other place you spend time regularly.
- Make a plan that includes various hazards that can strike your community. Apply contingencies you use daily to deal with power outages or transportation delays or breakdowns. This will help you as you consider larger disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and terrorism.
- Create a communication plan. Make sure you and your support network share contact information and alternate ways to communicate if phones are not working. Strategies may include agreeing to meet at an assigned place, or using pagers, email, or other technology not reliant on phone lines.
- Make an evacuation plan for home, work, school, and other situations. Identify a primary and secondary way to evacuate the house or building. If necessary, look into evacuation assistive devices, or the installation of ramps at emergency exits. Identify an area where public safety officials can assist you in any building you visit regularly. Contact the building safety director for help. If you require accessible transportation to evacuate an area, identify public and private resources that will help you.
- Plan for different ways of sheltering. Consider what you can do to safely shelter in place. Consider how to shelter with friends and family. Finally, consider how a shelter designated for the public would meet your demands.
- If you receive regular services (home health care, transportation, dialysis), make a plan with each service provider. Learn about their disaster plans and how to contact them in an emergency. Work with them to identify back- up service providers.
Your Personal Situation
- If you require help evacuating a building, create a plan with the assistance of your support network.
- If necessary, look into evacuation assistive devices, or the installation of ramps at emergency exits. Identify an area where public safety officials can assist you in any building you visit regularly. Contact the building safety director for help.
- If you require accessible transportation to evacuate an area, identify public and private resources that will help you.
Consider the following when developing your plan:
- Do you use communication devices?
- Do you depend on accessible transportation to get to work, appointments, or to other places in your community?
- Do you receive medical treatments (e.g. dialysis) on a regular basis?
- Do you need assistance with personal care?
- Do you rely on electrical equipment or other durable equipment?
- Do you use mobility aids such as a walker, cane, or a wheelchair?
- Do you have a service animal?
Ready Kit and Go Bag
A Ready Kit is a supply of items that you will need if you should have to shelter in place or rely on your own resources for a few days. A Go Bag has fewer items, but they are the essential ones to take with you if you must evacuate quickly. See NOD’s booklet Planning for Hazards: A Guide for People with Functional Needs for a list of suggested supplies. Common items include:
- 3-day supply of non-perishable food and manual can opener
- 3-day supply of water per person
- Medical equipment and assistive devices (glasses, hearing aids, catheters, augmentative communication devices, canes, walkers), plus extra batteries and chargers
- Medications, including a list with the prescription name, dosage, frequency, doctor, and pharmacist. If medications must be refrigerated, bring a cooler with an ice pack or other coolant system
- List of emergency contact information including your support network members in and out of the region, service providers, etc.
- Copies of important documents (birth certificate, passport, licenses, insurance information, proof of address)
- Flashlight and radio with extra batteries
- Cash, credit cards, checkbook, ATM card
- Supplies for a service animal including food, identification tags, proof of vaccinations, and veterinarian contact information
- White distress lag or cloth, whistle, flashlights and/or glow sticks
- First aid kit
- Written identification of your disability-related or health condition, or medical alert tags or bracelets
Where to find more informationMany of these agencies provide materials in accessible formats and different languages.
National Organization on Disability/Emergency Preparedness Initiativewww.nod.org/emergency
American Foundation for the Blindwww.afb.org
Community Emergency Preparedness Information Networkwww.cepintdi.org
Easter Seals (s.a.f.e.t.y. First program)www.easter-seals.org
Federal Emergency Management Agencyhttp://www.fema.gov/plan/
Humane Society of the U.S. (Disaster Center)www.hsus.org/hsus_field/hsus_disaster_center/
National Association of the Deafwww.nad.org
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Disability: Emergency Preparedness Toolkitwww.hhs.gov/od/disabilitytoolkit/index.html
U.S. Department of Homeland Securitywww.ready.gov