1-800-837-8558    Free shipping over $30

Emergency Prep Checklist for Those with Disabilities

Emergency situations happen quickly and when you least suspect them, but those with hearing, seeing, or learning disabilities and mobility issues have to deal with a whole different set of problems during disasters. With the right planning and supplies, you can stay prepared for any situation to ensure that disabilities don’t add extra complication. Here are some tips for emergency preparedness if you or a loved one has disabilities or other special needs.


Develop an emergency kit.


Create an emergency kit that has everything you could possibly need in the event of an emergency. Some basic items you should keep in your kit include:


- A rechargeable or battery-powered flashlight

- A first-aid kit

- A battery-powered or hand crank radio

- A whistle for signaling for help

- Chargers for your phone

- Dust masks to filter out contaminated air

- Moist towelettes/sanitary wipes

- A multi-tool or pocket knife

- Three days of non-perishable food for one person

- Three days of water for one person

- A manual can opener for the food

- Any prescription medication or other special needs items


Develop a primary and back-up plan.


Once disaster strikes, what will you do? Talk with your family and develop a plan. Start by deciding where the family should meet if everyone is separated. Choose somewhere just outside your home in the event of a fire or other sudden emergency. If you can’t return to your home, decide on a meeting place outside of your neighborhood.


From there, choose a friend or family member who lives out of town to be your main contact. This person will be everyone’s point of reference in the event of an emergency. When something happens, you and all your family members will call this person to tell them where they are.


You should also keep all the contact information for:


- Family members

- Caregivers

- Place of work

- School

- Other people in your personal support network


Keep this contact info either on your phone or on a card that fits into your wallet.


If you use a wheelchair, electric scooter, or other piece of special equipment, teach your family and others who may assist you in an emergency how to operate that equipment. Label equipment and attach simple instructions that teach others how to use that equipment.


If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or vision impaired, determine how you will receive information without a TV or radio. Consider a text radio, PDA, pager, or other device that can relay warnings and other emergency instructions to you. Furthermore, you may have to provide instructions to rescue personnel. Practice giving clear, concise instructions verbally or with pre-printed phrases or a communication board.


Set up escape routes and safe zones.


When a fire or other disaster hits, you need to evacuate as soon as possible. Make sure everyone in your family knows all the escape routes out of your home. Determine safe areas based on the disaster. For instance, in the event of a tornado, your family members should head to the basement, the lowest floor of your home, or a room or closet without windows.


Draw out a basic floor plan of your home. Locate the doors and windows, your emergency kit, and alarms along with any important elements outside, like porches, patios, stairs, driveways. Draw escape routes from each room. Each room should have at least two escape routes. For those who use a wheelchair or have other mobility issues, draw exits from your home that are easily accessible.


Practice and evaluate your escape plan.


Perform practice drills at least twice a year and include your family members and personal care attendant. You should also review and reevaluate your plan about the same time, every six months. Make sure you check the food and water in your emergency kit and replenish your supplies when expiration dates near. Alternately, consider replacing your food and water every six months.


For more information, the Red Cross has developed a thorough guide for preparing for emergencies focusing on the disabled and those with special needs.

Back to all articles