Setup an Emergency Support System
Emergencies can present additional challenges for seniors and people with disabilities or other special needs. Being prepared for any emergency can minimize these challenges. Designate a support system of caregivers, friends, and family and make a plan for them to check in and help you during an emergency. By planning ahead, you will feel more confident about protecting yourself following any emergency.
It's important to know how a disaster may affect you. Determine what resources and supplies you may need, and share this information with the people in your support system.
Checklist for Seniors and Special Needs
- Supply kit/to-go bag: Follow this supply kit checklist and include a month's supply of prescription medicines and medical supplies. Be sure to refill medications before they expire. Put them in your to-go bag and you can use them at home or take them with you to a shelter.
- Vital documents: Keep copies of your emergency contacts and vital documents in a waterproof container and put them in your to-go bag. Documents include: ID, will and legal papers, insurance cards and papers, medical records, and a list of your allergies/medicines/dosages/medical supplies/equipment.
- Benefits: A disaster can disrupt the schedule for mail service and government agencies. To make sure you get your social security or SSI payment on time, consider setting up a direct deposit through Go Direct (toll-free helpline 1-800-333-1795).
- Medical equipment: Teach members of your support system how to operate your equipment, and keep instruction manuals in your to-go bag.
- Shelter: Locate accessible shelters and keep a list of phone numbers, maps, and addresses. If needed, have someone in your support network accompany you to a shelter. Shelters DO NOT have special equipment (e.g., oxygen, mobility aids). Be prepared to bring your own.
- Evacuation plan: Work with someone in your support system to create an emergency plan and practice different evacuation routes. Practice dealing with unforeseen circumstances and situations, such as blocked paths or exits.
- If you must stay in your home during an evacuation: Ask someone in your support system to stay with you if possible. Ask them to place a note outside your home in a visible area advising that you are in the house and where you are located. Include emergency contact numbers.
Checklist for Scooter/Wheelchair Users
- Pack a tire repair kit and/or tire inflator in your to-go bag.
- Teach members of your support network how to operate your equipment in an emergency: how to disengage gears of a power wheelchair, how to lift or transfer you, and how to lift or collapse your wheelchair or scooter.
- Know the weight of your wheelchair or scooter and the people in your support system who can lift it.
- From FEMA: Individuals with Special Needs
- From the National Organization on Disability: Emergency Preparedness Initiative