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Special Needs, Special Preparation

Release date: 
June 7, 2006
Release Number: 

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Do you or a family member have a disability? Will you be responsible for the care of an elderly adult in the case of an emergency or disaster? Do you have small children that will need extra supplies and care in the event of a hurricane? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then you should consider now what extra steps to take in your disaster plan.

As the 2006 hurricane season begins, all levels of government, from city councils to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Florida’s State Emergency Response Team (SERT), are working vigorously to prepare for potential storms that may strike Florida in the coming months. An aspect of preparedness that cannot be overstated, however, is that of individual preparedness.

“Preparedness is a responsibility that FEMA aggressively promotes and that must happen at all levels – from the individual to the local, state and federal government,” said Scott Morris, FEMA’s Director of Florida Long-Term Recovery. “It is vital not only to prepare, but also to prepare for any special needs that you or a member of your family may have.”

Florida law requires that evacuation assistance be available to individuals with special needs. If you require special assistance and have no family or friends available to help in the event of an evacuation, you may qualify for evacuation assistance services. If this is the case, you should register with the local emergency management agency before disaster strikes.

“It is critical that Florida’s most vulnerable residents and their caregivers take the time now to get a plan,” said Department of Elder Affairs Secretary Carole Green. “Those with special needs often require additional measures of preparation, such as medication or special transportation. By planning ahead of a storm, all of our residents can remain safe and secure this season.”

General considerations for those with family members with disabilities:

  • Make prior arrangements with your physician or check with your oxygen supplier about emergency plans for those on respirators or other electric-powered medical equipment. Be sure to have electrical back-up for any medical equipment.
  • Maintain a two-week supply of such items as dressings, nasal cannulas and suction catheters.
  • Maintain a two-week supply of medications, both prescription and non-prescription.
  • Keep copies of your medical records.
  • Keep copies of prescriptions for medical equipment, supplies and medications.
  • Keep extra contact lenses and supplies, extra eyeglasses and extra batteries for hearing aids.

Considerations for those with small children:

  • Assemble extra items in your disaster supply kit, such as diapers, baby formula, medications, favorite books, crayons and paper, puzzles, favorite toys, favorite blanket or pillow, pictures of family and pets and any other items that will comfort your children.
  • Remember that children’s fears often can stem from their imagination – fears they may be separated from family, someone will be injured or killed, or they will be left alone. Communication is very important in maintaining your children’s mental well-being in times of crisis.
  • Also, keep a copy of your children’s immunization records, including the date of their last Tetanus-diphtheria shot.

Considerations for those who are responsible for the care of senior citizens:

  • Remember to help seniors who live alone. They may need help evacuating from their home, preparing for a storm and dealing with the aftermath of a disaster.
  • If an older adult lives in an assisted living facility or nursing home, you should contact the administrator to learn about the disaster plan for that facil...
Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46