WHY PREPARE? Emergency preparations for older, ill and special needs residents present a real challenge. Protecting yourself and your family when disaster strikes requires planning ahead. Disasters can strike quickly and without warning. You may need to evacuate your neighborhood or confine yourself to your home. You may need to cope without basic services -- water, gas, electricity or telephones-- were cut off.Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away.You are in the best position to plan for your own safety as you are best able to know your functional abilities and possible needs during an emergencysituation. You can cope with disaster by preparing in advance with your family and care attendants.

Knowing What You Need to Do is
Your Best Protection and Your Responsibility.

Here, the focus is on the particular needs
of older, ill and special needs residents.

CREATE A PERSONAL SUPPORT NETWORK Create a personal support network and a personal assessment. A personal support network can help you identify the resources you need and can assist you after a disaster happens.The network should include people at home, work and any other place where you spend a lot of time. They should be people you can rely on and who know your capabilities and needs. Aim for several people for each location since not everyone will be available if an emergency strikes.

COMPLETE A PERSONAL ASSESSMENT Make a list of your personal needs and your resources for meeting them in a disaster environment. Think about the following questions and write your answers that you will share with your network. Base your plan on your lowest anticipated level of functioning.

Daily Living

  • Do you use assistance and equipment with bathing, dressing and grooming?

  • What will you do if water service is cut off or if you are unable to heat water?

  • Do you use special utensils that help you prepare or eat food?

  • Do you have a back-up power supply for use with equipment that runs on electricity?


  • Will debris in your home obstruct your exit route following the disaster? Do you need help to evacuate? Can you reach and activate an alarm?

  • Do you need help to get groceries, medications and medical supplies?

  • If the elevator cannot be used, are there other exits? Do emergency alarms work without electrical service?

  • How will you summon help? Do your hearing aids work if wet from emergency sprinklers?

  • What can you do if you cannot find your mobility aids or if ramps are shaken loose?

  • Take your pets with you if you evacuate. Prepare a list of family, friends, boarding facilities, veterinarians, and "pet-friendly" hotels that could shelter your pets in an emergency. However, only service animals are permitted in emergency public shelters. Have and up to date license for your service animal.

1. Make Emergency and Back-up Plans

  • Contact your Personal Care Attendant and Building Manager. Review the information you gathered about hazards and emergency plans.

  • Ask an out-of-town friend or relative to be your contact. Following a disaster, family members should call this person and tell them where they are. It is often easier to make a long distance call than a local call from a disaster area.

A form for recording this information can be found at www.ready.gov - or at www.redcross.org/contactcard. Also get copies of blank wallet cards on which contact information can be recorded and carried in a wallet, purse, backpack, etc, for quick reference.

  • Decide where to meet. In an emergency, you may be separated from household members. Meet right outside your home in case of a fire. Meet outside your neighborhood in case you aren't home.

  • Practice an emergency evacuation drill each time you update your escape plan. Be sure to include family and/or your personal care attendant in the drills.

Prepare for Different Hazards.

How to protect yourself. A basement may be the best place to stay during certain emergencies. But if it is not wheelchair-accessible, what alternative shelters could you use? In case of a home fire, make sure all exits are accessible and that you can locate them by touch or feel if lights go out and smoke makes hard to see.

  • A medical alert sysem will allow you to call for help if you are immobilized in an emergency. A cell phone or pager is even better if the regular landlines are disrupted.

  • If you use an electric wheelchair or scooter, have a manual wheelchair for backup.

  • Show those who may need to assist you in an emergency how to operate necessary equipment. Attach instructions for equipment use.

  • Ask your personal support persons to check on you in an emergency.

  • If you are vision impaired and unable to use the TV or radio, plan for someone to convey essential emergency information to you.

  • Check to see if personal care attendant obtained from an agency can provides services at another location should you need to evacuate.

  • Ask the General Managert to identify accessible exits and identify all areas designated for emergency shelter or safe rooms. Ask about plans for alerting and evacuating those with sensory disabilities.

  • Have a cell phone with an extra battery. If you are unable to get out of the building, let someone know where you are and guide them to you. Keep the numbers you may need to call with you if the 9-1-1 emergency number is overloaded. Consider buying PDA’s, text radio, pagers, etc. to assist you in receiving emergency instructions and warnings from local officials.

  • You, your family and caregivers should know how and when to turn off water, gas and electricity at the main switches or valves. Keep any tools you would need near shut off valves. Turn off the utilities only if you suspect a leak or if local officials instruct you to do so. If the gas is turned off for any reason, only a professional can turn it back on.

  • Buy a fire extinguisher (ABC type).

  • Install smoke alarms on each level of your home, especially near the bedrooms. Consider installing smoke alarms that have strobe lights and vibrating pads. Follow local codes and manufacturer's instructions about installation. Consider installing a carbon monoxide alarm.

  • Take American Red Cross first aid and CPR/AED classes. Red Cross courses can accommodate people with disabilities.

  • Do you have adequate insurance coverage? Homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage and may not provide full coverage for other hazards. Make a record of your possessions to help you claim reimbursement in case of loss or damage. Store this information in a safe deposit box or other secure (flood/fire safe) location to ensure the records survive a disaster. Include photographs or video of the interior and exterior of your home as well as cars, boats and recreational vehicles. Also, have photos of durable medical equipment and be sure to make a record of the make and model numbers for each item. Get professional appraisals of jewelry, collectibles, art or other items that may be difficult to evaluate. Make copies of receipts and canceled checks showing the cost for valuable items.

  • Vital Records and Documents--birth and marriage certificates, social security cards, passports, wills, deeds, and financial, insurance, and immunizations records should be kept in a safe deposit box or other safe location.

Reduce home hazard, the ordinary items in the home can cause injury in a disaster.

  1. In case of fire, keep the oxygen equipment shut-off switch near your bed or chair .

  2. Have a professional repair defective electrical wiring, leaky gas connections and vents.

  3. Place heavy objects on lower shelves. Hang pictures and mirrors away from beds.

  4. Use restraints to secure cabinets, bookshelves, refrigerator and fixtures to wall studs.

  5. Repair cracks in ceilings and foundations.

  6. Store weed killers, pesticides and flammable products away from heat sources.

  7. Place oily rags or waste in covered metal cans and dispose of them according to local regulations.

2. Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit -- as discusssed in prior pages.3.  Maintain Your Plan -- as discusssed in prior pages. 4. Become Informed -- as discusssed in prior pages.If you are instructed to evacuate

  • Your first option should be to stay with family or friends; they can accommodate you, your pets and help you be most comfortable. Emergency public shelters can provide a safe place to stay and meals. However, they do not provide personal health care.

  • Listen to the radio or television for the location of emergency shelters.

  • Shut off water, gas and electricity if instructed to do so and if time permits.

  • Take your disaster supplies kit.

  • Lock your home.

  • Use travel routes specified by local authorities. Avoid shortcuts, they may be dangerous.

  • Confirm upon arrival at an emergency shelter that it can meet your special needs.

  • Tell your helpers and out-of-town contact of your location and status.

Implement these instruction.Then, if disaster strikes
you will know what to do and be prepared to act immediately.



This information and preparedness materials are online at www.fema.gov and www.redcross.org. Other preparedness materials are available at these sites, as well as at www.ready.gov.These publications are also available by calling FEMA at 1-800-480-2520, or writing: FEMA P.O. Box 2012 Jessup, MD 20794-2012Publications with an "A" number are available from your local American Red Cross chapter.

  • Are You Ready? A Guide to Citizen Preparedness (IS-22)

  • Preparing for Disaster (FEMA 475) (A4600)

  • Food and Water in an Emergency (FEMA 477) (A5055)

  • Helping Children Cope with Disaster (FEMA 478) (A4499) 

Learn MoreVisit the websites listed below to obtain additional information:www.access-board.gov--The Access Boardwww.aoa.dhhs.gov--DHHS Administration on Agingwww.ncd.gov--National Council on Disability www.nod.org/emergency--National Organization on Disabilitywww.prepare.org--Prepare.orgwww.aapd.com--American Association for People with Disabilitieswww.afb.org--American Foundation for the Blindwww.nod.org--National Association of the Deafwww.lacity.org/DOD--Los Angeles City Department on Disabilitywww.easter-seals.org--Easter SealsFor more in-depth information, get a copy of "Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilities" (A5091) from the American Red Cross, or visitwww.redcross.org/services/disaster/beprepared/disability.pdf