Disaster Preparedness For
Persons With Disabilities
Special emergency preparedness instructions must be given to citizens
in your communities that are members of special needs populations
or are participating in activities being conducted at facilities
where large groups of people are congregated.
Meet with household members or your personal care attendant to
discuss the dangers of fire, severe weather, earthquakes, floods
and other emergencies that might occur in your community.
Determine what you will need to do for each type of emergency.
- Create a plan with family or neighbors in order to obtain
emergency information or assistance in an evacuation. If possible
begin preparations for evacuation early.
- People with disabilities have the same choices as other community
residents about whether to evacuate their homes and where to go
when an emergency threatens. Listen to the advice of local officials.
Decide whether it is better to leave the area, stay with a friend
or go to a public shelter. Each of these decisions requires planning
- Create a self-help network of relatives, friends or co-workers
to assist in an emergency. Make sure they know where you keep
your emergency supplies. Give a key to a neighbor or friend who
may be able to assist you in a disaster.
- Check for hazards in the home. Anything that can move, fall,
break or cause a fire is a home hazard.
- Have disaster supplies on hand. In addition to the basic items
in your disaster supply kit make sure your kit includes any special
diet items, prescription drugs and the name and phone number of
your physician and pharmacy.
- Anchor items such as medical equipment, heavy appliances,
bookcases, and hanging plants. Place heavy objects on low shelves.
Move beds away from heavy picture frames and windows.
- Remove barriers such as bookcases which may block your safe
exit after a disaster. Install security night lights to provide
emergency lighting if the power goes off.
- Wear a medical alert tag or bracelet to identify your disability.
- Know the location and availability of more than one facility
if you are dependent on a dialysis machine or other life-sustaining
equipment or treatment.
- If you have a speech, language, or hearing disability tap
the space bar when calling 9-1-1 to indicate a TDD call. Store
writing pads and pencils to communicate with others. Remind friends
that you cannot completely hear warnings or emergency instructions.
Ask them to be your source of emergency information as it comes
over their radio.
- If you are visually impaired keep extra canes well placed
around the home and office, even if you use a guide dog. Store
extra food, water, and supplies for your dog. If you have a guide
dog remember that the dog may become confused or disoriented in
- Remember, in most states guide dogs for persons with disabilities
are allowed to stay in emergency shelters with their owners.
- If you use a wheelchair tie a lightweight drawstring bag to
the wheelchair where you can keep medicines, sanitary aides, a
hard-hat, a small flashlight, and a horn to signal for help. Show
relatives and friends how to operate your wheelchair so they can
move you if necessary. Make sure friends know the size of your
wheelchair in case it has to be transported. It's also a good
idea to store a manual wheelchair at a neighbor's home, school,
or your workplace.
Washington State Military Department, Emergency Management