Disabilities, Access & Functional Needs

People with disabilities or access and functional needs must take additional steps when making a plan to be prepared.


Communication

An emergency can affect your normal way of communicating with others. Develop a support network that can assist you during an emergency. This should consist of local and out-of area contacts, and include family, friends, neighbors, home attendants, coworkers, and/or members of community groups. Make sure to go over your plan with your contacts. Record the ways you prefer to communicate with others (e.g., email, sms/text, video relay, text telephone, etc.); that way, first responders can contact your support network in the event you are unable to communicate.

  • If you have a vision disability, be prepared to explain to others how to best guide you.
  • If you have a cognitive or emotional disability, be prepared for changes in in your environment.
  • If you have a hearing disability, practice communicating your needs through gestures, note cards, text messages, or other means.

Take Steps to Prepare

  • Provide your emergency contacts with a spare key so they can access your building.
  • Inform your contacts where you keep your Go Bag and emergency supply kit.
  • Make copies of important documents, including health information.
  • If you receive home-based care (e.g., home care attendant, home health aide, visiting nurse service), include caregivers in developing your plan and familiarize yourself with your homecare agency's emergency plan.
  • If you have a pet, emotional support or service animal, be alert and plan for his or her needs. During an emergency, pets, emotional support and service animals can become stressed.
  • Consider your dietary needs and always stock nonperishable food at home in case you have to shelter in place during an emergency.
  • Have an extra supply of any medication you may need.
  • If you receive dialysis, chemotherapy, or other life-sustaining treatment, find out whether there is a back-up location so your service is not interrupted.


Gather Supplies for Your Needs

Go Bag

Consider adding the following supplies to your Go Bag — a collection of items you may need in the event of an evacuation:

  • Manuals and extra batteries for any devices you use
  • Notepad and pen to communicate
  • Emergency health information card
  • Aerosol tire repair kits and/or tire inflator to repair flat wheelchair or scooter tires
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Extra mobility canes
  • Supplies for your pets or service animal (e.g., extra water, bowl, leash, plastic bags, toys and treats, etc.)
  • Back-up medical equipment such as glasses, batteries, or phone charger
  • Items to comfort you in a stressful situation


Emergency Supply Kit

Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit, which should include enough supplies to survive on your own for up to seven days:

  • Back-up medical equipment such as oxygen, medication, scooter battery, hearing aids, mobility aids, and glasses
  • Whistle or bell
  • Numbers of medical devices and instructions
  • Supplies for pet or service animal (e.g., food, extra water, bowl, leash, plastic bags, toys and treats, and contact information for your veterinarian, etc.)
  • Contact information for your doctors and pharmacy


Evacuation and Sheltering

Transportation Considerations

Before an emergency, call 311 to locate accessible transportation options.

Evacuation Transportation for People with Disabilities and Others with Access or Functional Needs

Depending on your need, you will either be taken to:

  • An accessible evacuation center in an accessible vehicle, OR
  • A hospital outside of the evacuation zone via ambulance.

You may not be able to request transportation to a specific address.

Specific instructions about which areas of the City should be evacuated will be communicated through various channels. If you live or are staying in an evacuation zone and your zone is ordered to evacuate, leave as soon as you can.

Use public transportation to evacuate if possible. When considering your transportation route, be aware that public transportation may shut down hours before the storm arrives.

Sheltering Considerations

When an emergency strikes, it is important to seek safe shelter. Some emergencies may require you to shelter in place, while other emergencies may require evacuation. Be ready to explain to first responders and emergency workers that you need to evacuate and how you will need to be assisted.

  • In the event of a coastal storm or hurricane, the City may open evacuation centers for those are unable to stay with family or friends outside the evacuation zone.

Plan for Power Disruptions

Ask your utility company whether your medical equipment qualifies you to be listed as a life-sustaining equipment customer (LSE), or whether you are eligible to register for a priority power restoration program. For those who rely on electric-powered medical equipment at home (e.g., respirators, dialysis machines, apnea monitors), please register with your utility provider so you can be contacted in the event of an emergency.

While registering with your utility provider is an important preparedness step, people who use electric-powered medical equipment should have an emergency plan. Consider the following:

  • An alternate source of electric power, such as a battery back-up system.
  • If using a generator be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, local building codes, and ensure that it's in a well-ventilated area.
  • Include variety of telephone options (land-line, cordless, cellular) if possible.
  • Customers with life-sustaining equipment registered with providers will receive priority during outages, but if it takes more than a couple of days to restore power, it is important to be independent and have a back-up source of electric power, such as a battery. Before the power goes out, make sure to charge all medical and communications devices.
  • If you rely on oxygen, talk to your vendor about emergency replacements. In the event that you do not have access to oxygen, call 911 for immediate assistance.

Depending on your provider, other programs may be available if you need extra time to pay your utility bill due to medical conditions.

If utilities are included in your rent, you are still eligible to register for this program directly with the utility company.


Resources