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Emergency preparedness for people with disabilities

Have you thought about everything you would need in case of an emergency? It is important to prepare ahead of time so you can stay safe when:

  • Your power goes out
  • Your water supply is turned off
  • You need to evacuate or leave your home quickly
  • You can’t get to a drug store for medication refills
  • Roads aren’t safe for your Personal Care Attendant (PCA) to drive to you

Types of emergencies or natural disasters

There are many types of emergencies and natural disasters:

  • House fire
  • Forest fire
  • Severe thunderstorm
  • Hurricane
  • Tornado
  • Flash floods
  • Heatwave
  • Earthquake
  • Typhoon
  • Landslide
  • Volcano
  • Hail
  • Ice storm
  • Blizzard

Some types of emergencies may be more or less common based on where you live.

How to find out about emergency events in your area

  • Watch the local news
  • Download a local news station app on your phone
  • Download a weather app like AccuWeather or FEMA
  • Check your state’s Department of Transportation website for information about road conditions in severe weather
  • Get a battery operated weather radio in case the power goes out. Some have flashing lights for people who are

Developing an emergency plan

It is important to make sure you have a plan so your needs are met during an emergency. Think about your daily needs and stocking up on supplies for a few days.

Support network

  • Who are the people who could help you in an emergency? 
  • Do you have their contact information stored in your phone? And in writing in your emergency kit?

Evacuation and transportation

  • How would you evacuate or leave your home if you needed to get to a safe place?

Medical equipment

  •  What medical equipment or assistive technology would you need to take with you?
  • Do you use medical equipment that requires electricity? Have you thought about what would happen if you lose power at your house?


  • What medications would you need? 
  • How many days’ supply should you have?
  • Do you have the numbers for your doctor and pharmacy stored in your phone and in your emergency kit?

Emergency shelters

  • Do you know how to find which emergency shelters or locations can meet any medical needs you have?


  • If you have a communication disability, do you need to take a communication device or communication cards with you?

Helpful resources for making an emergency plan

What to pack in your emergency kit

Keep important supplies in your emergency kit so you can find them quickly and easily.

Here is a list of the different types of kits and items to pack in them.

Your rights during an emergency

  • Information shared during an emergency should be clear and easy to understand. 
  • An ASL interpreter and captions should be on the screen during TV press conferences about emergencies.
  • Local evacuation should include accessible transportation for people who need it.
  • Shelters should be able physically accessible to those with disabilities. People with disabilities should be able to move around without barriers. 
  • You should be able to stay in a shelter in the community. You should not be forced to go to a “special” shelter or nursing home, unless you have medical needs that require a different setting.
  • You should be able to keep your service animal with you during evacuation and while staying in a shelter.

These rights and others are listed in this resource about your rights in a disaster.

Learn about what a disability is (according to the Americans with Disabilities Act) and who is protected by this law.

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