Emergency/Natural Disaster Plan for Special Needs Families


Emergencies and natural disasters can happen quickly, without much time to prepare, or without warning. For families of children with special needs, these circumstances can feel quite chaotic. Rushing around, forgetting your child’s prescriptions, equipment, etc. can lead to even more added stress.

Plan ahead and being well prepared. We have put together an Emergency/Natural Disaster Plan for those families of children with special needs. We hope it adds value, and decreases the stress that goes along with emergencies.

  • Be Informed
  • Make a Plan
  • Create a Kit

Be Informed

Being informed during an emergency or natural disaster will keep you ahead of the game, and well prepared. Stay up to date with your local news channel, radio station, or via the internet, if possible. Follow local authorities and pay attention to community disaster plans. Stay informed of changing weather, traffic, and emergency conditions.

Make a Plan

Children and individuals with special needs often require more care and attention than those without. Having a checklist of actions will help you prepare and stay organized during an emergency situation.

Where to meet
In an emergency situation, it is important to stay together! Keep a floor plan of your home and indicate escape routes, emergency exits, and safe places. If you need to evacuate, have a map handy, and make sure everyone in your family knows where to go.

Special Needs Shelters
Special Needs Shelters are occasionally available for individuals who require more care than provided at a typical shelter. These shelters are often staffed with medical personnel, and have generators for electricity back up. Accommodations are made in accordance with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act. Local, South Florida residents can call 954.831.3902 for more information, or to pre-register for the Broward County Special Needs Shelter.

Clearly and effectively communicate your emergency plans ahead of time. Where will you meet? Who will bring certain supplies, etc.? If power or phone lines do go out, have a backup plan – walkie-talkies, CB radios, etc. Keep a written list of contact information – phone numbers and addresses of service and medical providers, emergency services, and family members.

Contact Information
Keep a written list of contact information – phone numbers and addresses of service/medical providers, emergency services, and family members. It is also crucial to have your emergency information for your child, in case you were to be separated. Use this Backpack Emergency Card from CDC, to help keep your child safe.

Power Outage
Put together a list of all electricity-dependent items needed for the care of your child, and be prepared to use manual equipment in place of those electronic devices. Understand how to connect to a generator or back-up battery/power source. Be aware that there may be no access to an elevator, and make a wheelchair accessible plan for your child’s transportation.

Chances are you are the primary caretaker of your child. Keeping others informed and educated on how to care for your child can be crucial during an emergency situation. Teach others how to operate necessary equipment, provide treatments, and administer medicine.

Service Animals
Service animals, therapy pets, and pets in general, cannot be left behind. Prepare a list ahead of time of places that accept animals and/or are pet friendly – hotels, shelters, etc. and be sure to pack your pet’s essential items.

Create a Kit

We have put together a checklist of items to be equipped with during an emergency or natural disaster. Keep your supplies in an easy to carry, water-resistant case, for easy, quick access.