Hurricanes. Flash flooding. Power outages. Some urgent situations come without warning, while others give you time to prepare. Regardless, emergency planning can help keep you and your loved ones safe in any event. Being ready for an emergency is important for everyone, but for someone with special medical needs, it’s even more critical. There are additional factors to consider and steps to take to help keep you out of harm’s way when the unexpected strikes.
If you or a loved one has special health care needs or receives home health care services, this checklist can help you prepare for a power outage, emergency, or natural disaster.
Make an Emergency Plan of Action
- Discuss your emergency plan for a disaster with your doctor. How you will be able to communicate with your doctor’s office if needed?
- Decide with your family if you are staying in town or evacuating. Where are the safe places to shelter? What about your pets?
- Make sure your neighbors are aware that you or a loved one has special health care needs.
- Make a plan to communicate with your clinicians, caregivers, loved ones, and neighbors.
- Discuss an emergency plan with your home health care company if you cannot leave your neighborhood or your health care professionals cannot reach you to provide care and support.
Emergency Preparedness Checklist
- Notify your local emergency management team so they are aware that you or a loved one has special needs.
- If someone in your home relies on electrical medical equipment, ask your utility provider to list you as a “life-sustaining equipment customer.”
- Prepare backup power, light, and heat options in case of a power outage, such as a dedicated generator for medical equipment, whole-home generator, rechargeable marine battery, batteries, flashlights, lanterns, seasoned firewood, fuel, or space heaters. Carefully follow all safety instructions.
- Ensure that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO₂) detectors are working and have fresh batteries, and always have a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher on-hand.
- Stock at least a 3-day (up to 2-week) supply of water, nonperishable food, and necessary medicines such as prescriptions, treatments, or oxygen.
- Do you have coolers and ice in case your medication needs to stay cold in a power outage?
- Be ready to go by keeping your car full of gas, tuned-up, and stocked with emergency supplies. Keep your wheelchair tuned-up, fully charged, stocked with supplies, and if needed, winterized with snow tires (contact your local Easterseals for advice).
- Locate and learn how to turn on and off utilities such as gas, water, and electricity. You may need to turn them off before evacuating.
- Keep all important documents in one place, for easy access
- Keep an emergency to-go bag
Checklist for your Emergency to-Go Bag
- Important documents such as your home care plan, list of medications, physician, nurse, and family contact list, medical records, social security, Medicaid, prescription and insurance cards
- Medications and medical supplies
- Fully charged cell phone, charger, and car charger in case of power outage
- Several days’ worth of cash (in case ATMs and credit cards aren’t working)
- Flashlight and batteries
- First aid kit
- Extra eyeglasses
- Lighter or matches
- Manual can opener
- Food, water, clothing, and toiletries
Other Possible Emergency Supplies
- Battery-powered radio / NOAA weather radio
- Lightweight backup oxygen system
- Cannula, tubing, gasket, charger, and batteries for an oxygen regulator
- Pulse oximeter
- Ventilator and/or CPAP supplies
- Hearing aid and batteries
- Assistive devices
- Relevant supplies for your local area and weather such as a rain poncho, boots, gloves, coat, hat, boat, snow shovel, rock salt, or kitty litter (for traction)
- Flares or an emergency lantern
Taking time to do some emergency planning together can give you, your caregiver, and loved ones peace of mind now, and—potentially—better safety, independence, and comfort when the unexpected happens.
To learn more about disaster preparation for people with disabilities, you can visit American Red Cross Disaster Safety for People with Disabilities >> and