Preparedness for persons with special needs
Often, people with special needs who are self-sufficient under normal circumstances may need to rely on the help of others in a disaster. If you or a neighbor, friend or family member has a special need, preparing in the following ways can reduce the fear, panic and inconvenience surrounding a disaster.
Certain community service organizations are available to provide assistance to persons with special needs. Also, a network of friends, family, neighbors and co-workers can be established to help one another in emergencies. Discussing special needs with other people, employers and building managers will help to ensure issues are resolved prior to a crisis.
The elderly or people with disabilities may need more time to make necessary preparations in a disaster. Planning now can save valuable time if disaster strikes.
- People who are deaf or hard of hearing may not hear warning sirens, or alerts given over the radio or television. They will need to arrange for another source of emergency information.
- Those who are visually impaired may be reluctant to leave familiar surroundings if there is a request to evacuate. This is especially true if the request comes from a stranger.
- Persons with limited vision may need to plan for help reading signs or instructions.
- A guide dog may become confused or disoriented in a disaster. A disabled person may need assistance for themselves and their guide dog.
- People with limited mobility may require help when evacuating or moving to a shelter.
- Many chronic respiratory illnesses are aggravated by stress. If needed, have portable oxygen (O2) available.
- Individuals who are mentally challenged may need assistance from someone they trust to understand emergency instructions.
- People with complicated medication regimens may need to have an emergency supply of medication available. Be sure to write down the names and instructions for all medications.
- Those who have special dietary needs should arrange for an adequate emergency food supply.
- If you have a complex medical history, consider wearing medical tags to alert emergency workers to your condition.
Aside from physical or mental concerns, there are other needs that may warrant further consideration in an emergency situation.
- Single parent households may need extra help planning and responding to disasters.
- Non-English speaking persons should have back-up means to keep informed about emergency information and to get help with preparedness.
- Those people who are unable to drive may need to make alternate arrangements for transportation.
The McHenry County Department of Health maintains a registry of individuals with special needs so they can be located and assisted quickly in a disaster. If you would like to add your name to this confidential database, please complete and mail in the tear-off section. You can also check with your local fire and police departments to find out whether they maintain a similar database.
(Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency. Are You Ready? A Guide to Citizen Preparedness.)
Preparedness information for those who are visualy and hearing impaired
Click here to access an information database compiled by the Northeast Texas Public Health District. This webpage provides emergency preparedness information accessible by those who are deaf, blind or visually impaired.
For more information on preparedess for persons with special needs, please visit the following sites
For more emergency preparedness information please visit the following sites