Prepare - Elderly or Infirmed

The reality of a disaster situation is that you will likely not have access to everyday conveniences. To plan in advance, think through the details of your everyday life. If there are people who assist you on a daily basis, list who they are and how you will contact them in an emergency. Create your own personal support network  by identifying others who will help you in an emergency. Think about what modes of transportation you use and what alternative modes could serve as back-ups. If you require accessible transportation be sure your alternatives are also accessible. If you have tools or aids specific to your disability, plan how you would function without them. For example, if you use a communication device, mobility aid, or service animal, what will you do if these are not available? If you require life-sustaining equipment or treatment such as a dialysis machine, find out the location and availability of more than one facility. For every aspect of your daily routine, plan an alternative procedure. Make a plan and write it down. Keep a copy of your plan in your emergency supply kits and a list of important information and contacts in your wallet. Share your plan with your family, friends, service providers and others in your personal support network.

Include Medications and Medical Supplies: If you take medicine or use medical supplies on a daily basis, be sure you have what you need on hand to make it on your own for at least a week. You should also keep a copy of your prescriptions as well as dosage or treatment information. If it is not possible to have a week-long supply of medicines and supplies, keep as much as possible on hand and talk to your pharmacist or doctor about what else you should do to prepare.

If you undergo routine treatments administered by a clinic or hospital or if you receive regular services at home such as home health care, meals, oxygen or door-to-door transportation, talk to your service provider about their emergency plans. Work with them to identify back-up service providers within your area and the areas you might evacuate to. If you use medical equipment in your home that requires electricity to operate, talk to your health care provider about what you can do to prepare for its use
during a power outage.

Depending on your needs, items for your Go Kit may include: 
  • Extra eyeglasses, hearing aids if you have them, or have coverage for them.
  • Extra batteries for hearing aids.
  • Battery chargers for , motorized wheelchairs or other battery-operated medical or assistive technology devices.
  • Copies of medical prescriptions, doctors orders, and the style and serial numbers of the support devices you use.
  • Medical alert tags or bracelets or written descriptions of your disability and support needs, in case you are unable to describe the situation in an emergency. 
  • Supplies for your service animal. 
  • Medical insurance cards, Medicare/Medicaid cards, physician contact information, list of your allergies and health history
  • A list of the local non-profit or community-based organizations that know you or assist people with access and functional needs similar to yours. 
  • A laminated personal communication board, if you might need assistance with being understood or understanding others.
  • If possible, extra oxygen, insulin, catheters, or other medical supplies you use regularly.
  • If you use a motorized wheelchair, have a light weight manual chair available for emergencies.
  • Know the size and weight of your wheelchair, in addition to whether or not it is collapsible, in case it has to be transported. 
  • Even if you do not use a computer yourself, consider putting important information onto a portable thumb drive for easy transport in an evacuation. 
NOTE: Include copies of important documents in your emergency supply kits such as family records, medical records, wills, deeds, social security number, charge and bank accounts information, and tax records. It is best to keep these documents in a waterproof container. If there is any information related to operating equipment or life-saving devices that you rely on, include those in your emergency kit as well, and also make sure that a trusted friend or family member has a copy of these documents. Include the names and numbers of everyone in your personal support network, as well as your medical and disability service providers. If you have a communication disability, make sure your emergency information includes instructions for the best way to communicate with you. 

Also be sure you have cash or travelers checks in your kits in case you need to purchase supplies.

If you have allergies or chemical sensitivities, be sure to include items that you are able to use for personal hygiene and for cleanup.


Create a Personal Support Network:  

If you anticipate needing assistance during a disaster, make a list of family, friends and others who will be part of your plan. Talk to these people and ask them to be part of your support network. Share each aspect of your emergency plan with everyone in your group, including a friend or relative in another area who would not be impacted by the same emergency who can help if necessary. Make sure everyone knows how you plan to evacuate your home, school or workplace and where you will go in case of a disaster. Make sure that someone in your personal support network has an extra key to your home and knows where you keep your emergency supplies. Teach them how to use any lifesaving equipment or administer medicine in case of an emergency. If you use a wheelchair, oxygen or other medical equipment show friends how to use these devices so they can move you if necessary or help you evacuate. Practice your plan with those who have agreed to be part of your personal support network.

Inform your employer and co-workers about the assistance you will need in an emergency. This is particularly important if you need to be lifted or carried. Talk about communication difficulties, physical limitations, equipment instructions and medication procedures. If you  are deaf or hard of hearing, discuss the best ways to alert you in an emergency. If you have a cognitive or intellectual disability, be sure to work with your employer to determine how to best notify you of an emergency and what instruction methods are easiest for you to follow. Always participate in exercises, trainings and emergency drills offered by your employer.