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Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilities


Click here to read the complete guide to Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilities.

The materials in this resource guide provide information on disaster preparedness for people with special needs or disabilities. As a result of the recent natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina or the fires in Southern California in 2007, plans for emergency services have been emphasized at the local and state level. Although it is required by law, the needs of people with disabilities is often overlooked during the planning and implementation of emergency strategies. Disaster preparedness plans must consider the needs of people with special needs during evacuation, sheltering and returning home. The following resources serve as a guide for preparing for a disaster for the local government, institutions and individuals with special needs.

In order to be better prepared, everyone must do their part to plan for disasters. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits private and public entities to exclude people with disabilities from participation and benefits of any program or activity. It ensures that the needs of people with disabilities are taken into consideration. Just as restaurants must have wheel chair accessibility, emergency shelters must also be accessible for people with disabilities; basic services, such as cots and bathrooms, need to accommodate special needs. This manual includes a guide created by the American Red Cross to inform local governments on requirements for accommodating people with disabilities during times of emergency.

Individuals, with or without disabilities, can decrease the impact of a disaster by taking steps to prepare before an event occurs. A personal disaster plan may be the key to survival. People with disabilities need to be more self reliant in emergencies and have a plan for their own unique circumstances. A fundamental component of an individual’s preparation is knowing one’s abilities before, during, and after a disaster.

People with complex communication needs should have a personal disaster plan in place in case of emergency. They must have a way to communicate if they are with people who are not familiar with their form of communication. This guide includes a section that addresses the specific needs of individuals who depend on alternative forms of communication to communicate.

There are an abundance of resources for disaster preparedness for people with disabilities that are not covered in this resource guide. If this guide fails to fit your unique need, several resources are available on the Internet. Remember to be prepared. The more prepared you are, the better the outcome before, during, and after a disaster.