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Disasters Happen: Have A Family Plan

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Release date: 
November 8, 2006
Release Number: 

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Knowledge is power, and knowing what you are going to do when a disaster disrupts your life gives you the power to act, not react, during a time of chaos and confusion.

Disaster recovery officials with the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHS&EM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have some disaster preparedness tips to help families and individuals, including those with special needs, plan their initial actions during devastating emergencies.

Have a communication plan.

  • Know how you will get in touch with others if alone when a disaster strikes. 
  • Decide on a friend or relative that family members can contact in the event the family is  separated during the disaster.  Choose a person who lives in another town or state that won't be affected by the same disaster.  
  • Contact your children's school principal and learn what emergency plan is in place.  Let your children know that in case of an emergency, they should remain calm and listen to their teacher or principal. 
  • Keep contact numbers, emergency numbers, medical numbers and insurance information taped inside binders, notebooks, book bags, wallets, etc.  Write the list in waterproof ink.
  • Find out what your community's plans are in the event of evacuation.

Individuals with special needs and the elderly may require more detailed planning to prepare for a disaster.

  • Let your local emergency manager know if you live alone and would be unable to evacuate by yourself following an evacuation advisory.  If hearing-impaired, ask if you can make arrangements to receive emergency warnings. 
  • If you are mobility impaired and live in a high-rise building, ask management to mark accessible exits clearly and to make arrangements to help you leave the building. 
  • Contact the local chapter of the American Red Cross and find out what special assistance may be available in your community. 
  • Think about what you will be able to do for yourself based on available resources and your capabilities and limitations. 
  • Discuss your special needs with your employer. 
  • Create a network of neighbors, relatives, friends and coworkers to aid you in an emergency.
  • Keep specialized items ready, including extra batteries for hearing aids or electric wheelchairs, oxygen, catheters and medications. Include food and supplies, both for yourself and for service animals or pets, and any other items you might need. 
  • Keep a list of the type and model numbers of the medical devices you require. 
  • Teach those who may assist you in an emergency how to operate necessary equipment.

It may be important to depend on more than one person at each location where you regularly spend time since people work different shifts, take vacations and are not always available.  For more information, order FEMA's free pamphlet, Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and Other Special Needs (FEMA 476), toll-free at 1-800-480-2520.  The booklet also is available online at

For more information on disaster preparedness, visit  and

FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with State and local emergency managers, l...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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