Seniors & Special Needs

Create a Support Network:

  • If you anticipate needing assistance during a disaster, talk with family, friends and others you would like to be part of your personal support network.
  • Give each person a copy of your emergency plan and review and practice it with them.
  • Designate someone to check on you in an emergency; and give them a key to your home. Make sure he or she knows where your emergency supplies are kept. If needed, he or she can help you evacuate or shelter-in-place. Review where you will go and how you will evacuate.
  • Show those in your network what medicines to administer in case of an emergency. Make sure they know where to find your Personal Health Needs Record.

Create a Personal Health Needs Record:

  • If you require medicine or medical treatment on a daily basis, be sure you have what you will need to make it on your own for at least one week, if not longer.
  • Create a Personal Health Needs Record. Write down all prescription medicines including dosage, treatment and allergy information, and any routine medical treatments you require. Be sure to write the date you create (or update) this document at the top of the first page for reference. Update as prescriptions and dosages change to keep your record current. Keep this information with your emergency supplies for easy access and make sure people in your support network know where to find it.
  • Visit with your doctor or pharmacist to see what else you may need to prepare, and how to store extra prescription medications such as insulin or heart and blood pressure medicine.
  • If you receive routine treatments administered by a hospital or clinic or you receive regular services such as home health care, treatment or transportation, visit with your service provider about their emergency plans. Work with them to identify back-up service providers and incorporate them into your personal support network.
  • Consider other personal needs you may require such as dentures, eyeglasses, hearing aids and hearing aid batteries, wheelchair batteries, and oxygen.

Create an Emergency Documents Folder:

  • Make copies of important documents such as medical records, family records, death certificates, wills, deeds, social security numbers, home, auto and life insurance policies, charge card and bank account information, tax records, drivers licenses, and passports.
  • Keep copies of your medical insurance and Medicare cards handy for easy access.
  • Write down the style and serial number for each medical or other life-sustaining device. Include operating information and instructions. Make sure that a friend or family member has copies of these documents.
  • Have a copy of your phone and/or utility bill addressed to you at your home address for proof of residence if your city or neighborhood suffers a complete and catastrophic loss.
  • Include names and contact information of people in your support network, as well as, your medical or home health care providers.
  • If you have a communication disability, make sure your emergency information notes the best way to communicate with you.
  • Keep these documents in a water proof container for quick and easy access.
  • If you must evacuate, take these documents with you.
  • Consider making an additional copy of these documents and store with an out-of-state family member.

Protect Your Access to Federal Benefits:
If you receive federal benefits (e.g., Social Security), consider signing up for electronic payments. With electronic payments, your monthly federal benefits will be deposited directly into your bank account or a Direct Express© prepaid debit card. This will ensure your funds continue to be received even during major disasters.

When disaster strikes, mail service may be interrupted for days or weeks. You may also be evacuated from your home for an extended period of time. If your city or neighborhood suffers a catastrophic and total loss, there will be no homes or mailboxes to which mail can be delivered. Over 85,000 check recipients encountered this problem after Hurricane Katrina.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury recommends two safer ways to get federal benefits:

1. Direct deposit to a checking or savings account is the best option for people with bank accounts. Federal benefit recipients can sign up by calling (800) 333-1795 or at

2. The Direct Express® prepaid debit card is designed as a safe and easy alternative to paper checks for people who don’t have a bank account. Sign-up is easy. Call toll-free at (877) 212-9991 or sign-up online at

Additional Considerations:

  • For persons in wheelchairs, work with your care providers to plan how you will evacuate. If you have a motorized wheelchair, consider getting a manual wheelchair as a backup.
  • For persons who are blind or visually impaired, store an extra cane next to your bed and attach a whistle in case you need to attract attention. In emergencies, exercise caution when moving as paths may have become obstructed.
  • For persons who are hearing impaired, store extra hearing aid batteries with your emergency supplies. You may also wish to store hearing aids in a container attached to your nightstand or bedpost, so you can locate them quickly in an emergency.
  • For persons with communication disabilities, keep paper, writing materials, copies of a word or letter board and preprinted key phrases in your emergency kit, wallet, purse, etc.

For more information, see Disaster Preparedness For People With Disabilities from the FEMA and American Red Cross websites.

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