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Content developed in collaboration with National Organization on Disability's Emergency Preparedness Initiative


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Get A Kit

Having a basic kit on hand to sustain yourself and your family after an emergency is an essential part of preparation. Think first about basic survival needs: fresh water, food, clean air, and warmth. Store your supplies in a portable container as close as possible to an exit and review the contents of your kit at least once a year. Include in your kit:

  • 3-day supply of water: 1 gallon per person per day but you may need more; consult with your doctor
  • 3-day supply of non-perishable food that meets your dietary requirements
  • Manual can opener and eating utensils
  • Medical equipment and assistive devices
  • Medications and a list of prescription name, dosage, frequency, and doctor contact information
  • Cooler with an ice pack if medications need to be refrigerated
  • Medical alert tags or bracelets to identify your disability-related need
  • Supplies for a service animal or pets including 3-day supply of food and water, ID tags, proof of vaccinations, and veterinarian contact information
  • Flashlight
  • Portable, battery-powered radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Basic first aid kit and manual
  • Warm clothing and blankets
  • Whistle
  • Filter face masks (N95 rating)
  • List of emergency contact information
  • Photocopies of important documents (birth certificate, licenses, insurance information, etc.)
  • Cash and coins
  • Sanitation and hygiene items (hand sanitizer, denture care, moist towelettes, absorbent pads, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, etc.)
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper: 9 parts water to 1 part bleach can be used as a disinfectant, 16 drops of bleach to 1 gallon of water can be used to treat water in an emergency (do not use scented, color safe, or bleaches with added cleaners)
  • Items for infants (formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers) if applicable

More Information

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Make A Plan

Creating a plan that fits your needs before, during, and after a disaster will help you be more self-reliant in an emergency and find your family if you become separated. Be sure to share your plan with others and include a copy of it in your kit.


  • Learn about potential threats. Understanding the characteristics of an emergency and how to respond is critical to survival
  • Identify your communitys plan for informing citizens when a disaster is on its way or actually occurring. Find local information.
  • Learn about emergency response plans in locations you and your family members regularly spend time (e.g. work, school)


A support network is a group of individuals who have agreed to be a part of your preparedness plan and assist you in the event of a disaster. Your support network will know your needs and capabilities and should be able to provide help within minutes.

  • Ask roommates, relatives, neighbors, friends, and co-workers to be a part of your network; there should be at least 3 people in each place you regularly spend time
  • Explain why you need their help and how they can assist
  • Exchange contact information with your support network and think of alternate ways to communicate if phones are not working
  • Arrange for more than one person in your support network to check on you in an emergency


  • Have an out-of-town contact that every member of your family will call after a disaster
  • Make sure everyone in your family knows this contacts phone number


  • Identify accessible primary and secondary evacuation routes in buildings you frequent
  • Identify family meeting places; choose a location close to your home and another outside your neighborhood
  • If you require assistance, involve your support network in the plan
  • If you have a car, keep at least a half tank of gas in it in case you need to evacuate
  • Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area (Find local information)
  • If you do not have a car, identify public and private resources with accessible transportation that will assist in evacuation
  • When evacuating:
    • Take your emergency supply kit with you
    • Lock the door behind you and leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going


  • Designate a safe room in your home; it should be an interior room where you are able to close and seal all doors, windows, and vents
  • Identify any assistance you will need and plan accordingly with your support network
  • Determine whether or not you will require a special needs shelter, where medical issues can receive appropriate attention
  • If you must go to a public shelter, assume that the shelter may not be accessible and you may not be able to receive all of the attention you need from staff
  • Pets, except for service animals, are not allowed in public shelters; if possible, plan your evacuation in advance to find lodging where you may take your pets
  • If you must go to a public shelter, leave your pet behind with plenty of food and water, and a note on the door indicating that your pet is inside


  • If you are dependent on dialysis or other life sustaining treatment, know the location of more than one facility
  • Teach members of your support network who would assist you how to operate necessary equipment
  • Practice clear, specific, and concise instructions that you would give to rescue workers about your needs
  • Know your plan and practice it with your support network
  • Dont expect assistance at the height of an emergency; first responders cannot risk their own lives driving into a chemical cloud or against hurricane-force winds

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The term mobility disabilities refers primarily to persons who have little or no use of their legs or arms. 

  • Pair of heavy gloves to use while wheeling or making your way over glass and debris
  • Extra batteries for your motorized wheelchair or scooter
  • Jumper cables or recharging device that can be connected to a car cigarette lighter
  • Patch kit or can of seal-in-air product to repair flat tires
  • Spare cane or walker
  • Contact your fire department for help in evacuation planning, but make sure the advice fits your needs
  • Arrange furniture so it does not block a quick exit
  • Ask support network members to help you create a plan if you must evacuate a building by stairway
  • Be familiar with evacuation plans for multi-story buildings in case the elevators stop
  • Plan how you will get along if you must abandon your wheelchair; several companies make products to assist with evacuation
  • Know the location of a building's designated areas of refuge to await rescue, as it may not be possible to evacuate with everyone else
  • Expect that public shelters will not be one-hundred percent accessible and that you may need assistance transferring to and from a sleeping cot or navigating around tightly packed walkways
  • Be prepared to explain to shelter staff that federal regulations allow you to take your service animal into the shelter

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The term sensory disabilities" refers to persons with hearing or visual limitations, such as blindness or total deafness.

  • Pad of paper with pens or pencils for writing notes
  • Extra batteries for tape recorders, TTYs, etc.
  • Extra pair of dark glasses, if medically required
  • Folding mobility cane
  • If you are deaf, find out if fire alarms in buildings you frequent are visual
  • If you are blind, be aware that alarms may be so loud they will drown out audio cues, such as the sound of people running
  • Ask members of your support network to alert you to warnings and alarms
  • Consider purchasing a National Weather Radio (NWR) for your home; it turns itself on and emits an audible or visual alarm during natural and man-made hazards
  • If you use telecommunications relay services, look into different backup options including: dialing 711 (nationwide), CapTel (captioned telephone), internet-based relay (through computer, text pager, PDA, etc), and/or video relay services (though broadband)
  • Be prepared to communicate without an interpreter to tell shelter operators what your needs are
  • If you are blind or visually impaired, expect to require assistance finding a place to sit and the location of the restroom and food line
  • Be prepared to explain to shelter staff that federal regulations allow you to take your service animal into the shelter

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The term developmental and cognitive disabilities includes disorders that may impact an individuals ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, do math, or follow instructions.

  • Alternate power source or spare batteries for communication device
  • Paper and writing materials
  • A favorite item, such as a small videogame or book, to help you relax while waiting in lines
  • Practice the evacuation route out of your home and workplace until it is ingrained in your memory
  • Prepare pre-printed messages explaining your condition to show first responders, such as: I may have difficulty understanding what you are telling me, so please speak slowly and use simple language.
  • Plan to and practice how to describe your disability in a short, meaningful phrase in case your pre-printed messages arent available
  • Plan outlets for the stress and anxiety that may arise during an emergency
  • Plan to focus on instructions you are given and follow them
  • Although sheltering at home or work is the least stressful alternative, if you can leave your community before a known threat arrives do so
  • Seek refuge with friends and family first because it will be more comfortable and less stressful
  • If you must go to a public shelter:
    • Expect the conditions to be noisy, crowded, and boring
    • Consult the shelter doctor or nurse if you believe your medication (or lack thereof) is creating medical problems
    • Work particularly hard to watch body language so you will know when it is a good time to ask a question of a staff member or other occupant
    • Think carefully before you speak since people under the stress of shelter life may not understand your condition

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Be Informed