Helping Those with Special Needs Prepare for an Emergency

If someone that you care about has a special need or a disability, those needs must be considered when making all of your emergency preparedness plans.   As with any type of emergency planning, the best thing that you can do is plan and prepare for a variety of situations.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for a variety of emergencies.


If the person with special needs requires medications or other medical supplies, it is a good idea to start now to accumulate a good emergency supply of those items.  Aim for at least a two week supply of any medications and supplies.

Also, go through any equipment that they use. If anything is electric, see if there is a battery powered alternative that you can keep on hand for emergencies.  This would include having a non-electric wheel chair to use in the event that the motorized one could not be charged.

Obviously, if the person is on a special diet you will need to include food that is suitable for them in your emergency food storage.

Life or Death Needs

Some people with special needs are placed in mortal danger during an emergency. People that require oxygen and dialysis are two examples.

Such needs must be planned for well in advance.  For example, talk to the people at the dialysis center and see if there are any types of procedures to keep in mind during an emergency.  If it’s possible, keep some extra oxygen on hand as well.

Some cities have a registry of people with such needs so that, in an emergency, every attempt can be made to reach them first. See if your location has such a registry.

If the emergency is of the type where you have some warning, such as a hurricane or flood warning, get this person out of the danger zone ahead of the potential emergency.

In such cases, it is definitely better to be safe than sorry.

Moving the Person

If the person in question cannot move on their own, you MUST have a workable plan for moving them in an emergency.  This might mean practicing the move with another member of your household.  You might try to move the person to the first floor so that, in an emergency that required leaving the home, you would not be faced with carrying them down the stairs.

It is these types of advance preparations that have the potential to save the life of someone with disabilities or special needs.

If the person is a neighbor who doesn’t seem to have any relatives to care for them, consider making them part of any of your emergency evacuation and other plans. Talk to the person in advance and ask, should the need to evacuate arise, if they would like to go with your family. If so, learn all that you can about their needs so that you can be fully prepared.

Remember, people with special needs and disabilities may need your help in order to be able to face an emergency. By making their needs part of your emergency planning, you will be making the situation better for them and may even be saving their life.