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Disaster Preparedness For People With Special Needs

Release date: 
June 22, 2009
Release Number: 

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- Disaster preparedness requires more than a "one size fits all" emergency plan. Disaster officials from the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommend that individuals with disabilities and other special needs develop a disaster plan to fit their unique requirements.

FEMA suggests checking the following steps to prepare for a disaster.

Get informed

Find out about special assistance that may be available in your community from the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management or your local chapter of the American Red Cross.

Make a plan

Decide what you will be able to do for yourself and what assistance you may need before, during and after a disaster. Consider your needs for daily living, getting around after a disaster or evacuating to a safer area.

Organize a support network that includes care attendants, neighbors, friends, relatives and co-workers. The members of your network should know your capabilities and needs and be able to provide help within minutes. It may be important to depend on more than one person at each place where you regularly spend time since people are not always available.

Assemble a kit

A disaster supply kit is a collection of basic items you would probably need to stay safe and comfortable during and after a disaster. They should be stored in a portable container as close to an exit door as possible.  Special needs items should be considered such as extra batteries for hearing aids and wheelchairs, food and water for companion animals, a list of current prescriptions and medications, your medical history, and the type and model numbers of medical devices you need.

Maintain your plan and kit

Discuss the plan with your care attendant and the people in your network.  Review the plan every six months. Make sure they know how to operate any medical equipment you need.  Rotate food and water supplies.

Additional 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 is also available online at

  • Other pamphlets may be ordered or viewed online at, including Preparing for Disaster (FEMA 475); and Food and Water in an Emergency (FEMA 477).

  • Visit FEMA's Web site,, and type "Disabilities" or "Special Needs" in the search box.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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