For Vulnerable Populations

Seniors & People with Disabilities

For the millions of Americans who have physical, medical, sensory or cognitive disabilities, emergencies such as fires, floods and acts of terrorism present a real challenge. The same challenge also applies to the elderly and other special needs populations.

Protecting yourself and your family when disaster strikes requires planning ahead. This section will help you get started. Discuss these ideas with your family, friends and/or your personal care attendant, or anyone else in your support network and prepare an emergency plan.

Post the plan where everyone will see it, keep a copy with you and make sure everyone involved in your plan has a copy.


  • During an emergency, personal care attendants may not be able to make it to their patients. Make sure you have made arrangements with caregivers and/or are familiar with your personal care agencies emergency policy. This includes having emergency supplies on hand at home and having a support network that is aware of your situation.
  • If you have a service animal, make sure that it has a registered tag and that it is recognized by service professionals. This includes if the animal travels with you in a car or on public transportation – have a decal on the car window that indicates “Service Animal Inside".


  • Keep a separate supply of at least 7 days worth of any medication or critical medical supplies, such as oxygen. Check with your insurance and doctor to arrange this.
  • If you rely on electric medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, ventilators and oxygen compressors, talk to your medical supply company about getting batteries or a generator as a back up power source. Have their telephone number on speed dial.


  • If you or a family member have difficulty moving quickly and easily, make sure your neighbors are aware and that you have someone who can check in during an emergency. You might want tot give a trusted neighbor your contact person’s number.
  • Develop a support network with several people who will continue to follow up with you following an emergency. 

Pet Resources

Pets are often full-fledged family members, and any family emergency plan must include them to be truly complete. Many shelters will not permit animals (with the exception of registered service animals), so it is especially important that you have a plan for your pets in case of an evacuation.


  • Make sure your pets all have licenses and ID tags, microchip if at all possible.
  • Ask local shelters and animal clinics if they provide emergency foster care.
  • Arrange with neighbors to care for your pets if an emergency occurs while you are away from your home and cannot return.
  • Know your pets' hiding places so you can find them easily if you need to evacuate.
  • Transport pets in carriers or on leashes during an emergency; this makes them feel more secure.
  • You might want to develop a special “Go Bag” just for your pets – these are some of the items to include: (These items can be placed in a small garbage can with a lid and wheels)
  • A recent photo of your pet (pets) in case they get lost
  • Sturdy leashes and/or carriers
  • Pet food, water, and bowls
  • Cat litter and box
  • Pet toys
  • Contact information for a veterinarian
  • Medical information and records
  • Any necessary medication
  • Plastic bags for clean-up