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Seniors and People with Special Needs


Emergencies can present additional challenges for seniors and people with special needs. When a disaster occurs, your personal needs, such as replacing medications and equipment, may not be met right away. By planning ahead, you will feel more confident about protecting yourself in any emergency, whether it is a house fire, power outage, hurricane, or terrorist attack.





Ready New York: My Emergency Plan
Ready New York: My Emergency Plan is a workbook designed to help New Yorkers — especially those with special needs — create an emergency plan.
Learn more


Develop A Plan
Develop a disaster plan. Consider the following recommendations to ensure your plan best meets your needs:
  • Create an emergency support network: You don't want to go through an emergency alone. Ask at least two people to be in your network — family members, friends, neighbors, caregivers, coworkers, or members of community groups. Remember, you will help each other in emergencies. Your emergency support network should:
    • Stay in contact during an emergency.
    • Check on you immediately after an emergency.
    • Keep spare sets of your keys.
    • Know where your emergency supply kit is kept.
    • Have copies of important documents, such as information about medication and dosage, equipment, and other needs.
    • Learn about your personal needs and how to help you in an emergency.
  • 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 or service animal, also plan for his or her needs (i.e., temporary relocation, transportation, etc.).
  • If you rely on home-delivered meals, always stock nonperishable food at home in case meal deliveries are suspended during an emergency.
  • Have a plan with your doctor to get emergency prescription refills.
  • If you receive dialysis or other medical treatments, find out your provider's emergency plan, including where your back-up site is located.
  • If you rely on medical equipment that requires electric power:
    • Contact your medical supply company for information regarding a back-up power source, such as a battery.
    • Follow the manufacturer's directions when installing and using the equipment.
    • Check with local fire and building officials for regulations governing generator and fuel use.
    • Ask your utility company if the medical equipment qualifies you to be listed as a life-sustaining equipment customer or if you are eligible to register for a priority power restoration program.
      • Con Edison: (800) 752-6633 (TTY: 800-642-2308)
      • National Grid: (718) 643-4050 (TTY: 718-237-2857)
      • PSE&G: (800) 490-0025 (TTY: 631-755-6660)
  • If you rely on oxygen, talk to your vendor about emergency replacements.
  • Take time to plan on how you will talk to friends or emergency workers in an emergency. During an emergency, your normal way of communicating may be affected by changes in environment, noise or confusion. Know how and what you will need to communicate during an emergency.
  • If you are hearing impaired, you can request police, fire, and medical assistance from public pay phones and/or emergency call boxes. For more information, visit the Mayor's Office for People With Disabilities online.


Add to Your Go Bag
Assemble a Go Bag — a collection of items you may need if you have to leave in a hurry. Consider additional items such as:
  • Instructions and extra batteries for any devices you use
  • Notepad and pen
  • Emergency health information card
  • Aerosol tire repair kits and/or tire inflator to repair flat wheelchair or scooter tires
  • Supplies for your service animal (food, extra water, bowl, leash, plastic bags)
  • Back-up medical equipment (e.g., glasses and batteries)
  • Items to comfort you in a stressful situation
  • Instructions for any device you may use


Add to Your Emergency Supply Kit
Everyone needs emergency supplies. Keep enough supplies in your home to survive on your own for at least three days. You may also consider additional supplies and equipment when compiling your kit, based on your special needs:
  • Back-up medical equipment (e.g., oxygen, medication, scooter battery, hearing aids, mobility aids, glasses, etc.)
  • Whistle or bell
  • Style and serial numbers of medical devices (such as pacemakers) and usage instructions
  • Supplies for pets and service animals (food, extra water, bowl, leash, plastic bags)
  • Contact information for your doctors and pharmacy


Earthquake Preparedness Tips for Seniors & People With Special Needs

Before an Earthquake
  • Write down any specific needs, limitations and capabilities that you have, and any medications you take. Make a copy of the list and put it in your purse or wallet.
  • Find someone (a spouse, roommate, friend, neighbor, relative or co-worker) to help you in case of an emergency. Give them the list. You may wish to provide a spare key to your home, or let them know where they can find one in an emergency.
During an Earthquake
  • If you are confined to a wheelchair, try to get under a doorway or into an inside corner, lock the wheels and cover your head with your arms. Remove any items that are not securely attached to the wheelchair.
  • If you are able, seek shelter under a sturdy table or desk. Stay away from outer walls, windows, fireplaces and hanging objects.
  • If you are unable to move from a bed or chair, protect yourself from falling objects by covering up with blankets and pillows.
  • If you are outside, go to an open area away from trees, telephone poles and buildings and stay there.
Learn more from the California Department of Health: Be Prepared California



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