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Emergency Preparedness for People with Special Needs

Transcript - Preparing Makes Sense for People with Special Needs

A disaster can strike at any time - sometimes without warning. It is important for every Suffolk County resident, especially citizens with disabilities and other special needs to plan ahead for an emergency situation and know what to do in the event of an emergency.

This portion of the Suffolk County Emergency Management Web site offers resources and information specifically tailored for people with disabilities/special needs and their families to help prepare for emergencies, protect themselves and be survivors.

Don't put off until tomorrow what you can plan for today!

Get Informed: Know about the specific hazards that threaten your community (hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, etc.), learn about community disaster plans and community warning systems and find out more about special assistance programs.

Create an Emergency Kit: Your emergency kit should have supplies specific to your special needs. A complete list of suggested items can be found in the links below.

* Create an Emergency Kit

Other Helpful Tips:

  • Wear medical alert tags/bracelets to help indentify your disability/special need.
  •  Practice how to quickly explain your condition and your adaptive equipment to someone who is helping you.
  •  Wheelchair users need to have more than one exit from their residence that is wheelchair accessible. Practice how to escape from your home.
  •  Know the size and weight of your wheelchair, in addition to whether or not it is collapsible, in case it has to be transported.
  •  If you are dependent on dialysis or other life sustaining treatment or equipment, know the locations and availability of more than one facility in your area.

All County Residents need to take a few basic steps to plan for their personal/family needs and protection in the event of a disaster or emergency. People with disabilities/special needs often have unique challenges that require more detailed planning.


 Considerations for People with Disabilities/Special Needs:

  •   Contact your physician to discuss emergency planning and your needs for skilled medical care.
  •  Know how to connect and start a back-up power supply for essential medical equipment
  •  If you use an electric wheelchair or scooter, have a manual wheelchair as a back-up.
  • Label medical equipment, assistive devices and any other necessary equipment and attach laminated instructions for equipment use. Also include your identification information.
  •  Store back-up equipment (mobility, medical, etc.) at an alternate location (friend's, family member's, neighbor's or caregiver's home, school or workplace).
  • If you have visual/sensory disabilities, plan for someone to convey essential emergency information to you if you are unable to use the television or radio.
  • If you use a personal care attendant from a home healthcare agency, check to see if the agency has special provisions for emergencies (i.e. providing services at another location should an evacuation be ordered).
  • If you live in an apartment, ask the management to identify and mark accessible exits and access to all areas designated for emergency shelter or safe rooms.
  •  Have a cell phone with an extra battery.
  • Learn about devices and other technology available to assist you in receiving emergency instructions and warnings from local officials: Learn about SuffolkAlert
  • Consider getting a medical alert system that will allow you to call for help if you are immobilized in an emergency.

The Suffolk County emergency management offices keep a current list of people within a community who have a disability/special need so you can be quickly located and assisted in the event of an emergency. It is important that you register with this program. Registering with us not only provides vital information to the county should you need assistance in an emergency, but may also qualify you for special sheltering or transportation programs. This is strictly voluntary.
*Learn about the  Suffolk County Emergency Preparedness Registry
Be prepared to provide your contact and medical information as well as emergency contacts to complete county registration process.

Written instructions regarding care and medication

  • list of all medications and their dosages
  •  list of all doctors
  •  list of the styles and serial numbers of medical devices you use

Important documents - in a waterproof container or watertight re-sealable plastic bag

  • extra copies of medical insurance documents and Medicare/Medicaid cards
  • other insurance records (home, car, etc.)
  • medical records including prescription information
  • bank account numbers
  • Social Security card, etc.

People with mobility disabilities should consider including the following in their emergency kit

  • Pair of heavy gloves to use while wheeling or making your way over glass and debris
  •  Extra battery for your motorized wheelchair or scooter 
  •  Jumper cables or specific recharging device to be connected to an automobile's cigarette lighter 
  •  Patch kit or can of "seal-in-air product" to repair flat tires
  •  Spare cane or walker
  • Food, medicine, favorite toy, and other care items for your service animal
  •  Plastic bags, disposable gloves and other items for the animal's care
  •  Whistle

People with sensory disabilities should consider including the following in their emergency kit:

  •  Pad of paper with pens or pencils for writing notes
  •  Extra batteries for tape recorders, portable TTYs, etc.
  •  Extra pair of eye glasses
  •  Extra pair of dark glasses, if medically required
  •  Extra set of hearing-aid batteries
  •  Folding mobility cane 
  •  Food, medicine and favorite toy for your service animal 
  •  Plastic bags, disposable gloves and other items for the animal's care

 People with developmental or cognitive disabilities should consider including the following in their emergency kit

  •  Alternate power source or spare batteries for communication device
  • Paper and writing materials

Medication Requirements:

One of the most critical preparation steps you can take is ensuring you have enough of your required prescription medications available should the aftermath of a disaster prevent you from getting a refill. It is recommended that you have a minimum two-week supply of all your prescription medications. Be sure your extra supply is kept current and has not expired. It is also recommended that you keep a list of all your prescription medications, dosages and any other special instructions with your emergency medication supply.

For more Disaster Readiness Tips for People with Disabilites visit the: 
 National Organization On Disability 
It's ability, not disability, that counts

Suffolk County Government

H. Lee Dennison Bldg

100 Veterans Memorial Hwy
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Riverhead County Center

County Road 51
Riverhead, NY 11901