Emergency Preparedness With Special Needs Children

emergency preparedness with special needs childrenWell, I don’t know about you but with the latest natural disasters going on around the world I have started to think seriously about being prepared in the event of an emergency. I think we should all be prepared as best as we can anyway, but emergency preparedness with special needs children requires some extra planning.

Some of the things that need to be considered and are quite probable in the event of an emergency are what to do in the following scenarios:

  • No electricity, heat, airconditioning, telephone, water or refrigeration
  • No local access to prescription medicines
  • Evacuation to a shelter or confinement at home
  • Limited rescue services
  • Lack of transportation

O.K. so I don’t want you to panic thinking about all of the above possible scenarios but as we all know it is much better to be safe than sorry.

I suggest printing out the below information for your convenience.

Here is a video from the American Red Cross which has some very valuable information.  Well worth seeing.


hurricaneThe very first thing that needs to be done is to sit down with family members and discuss and brainstorm ideas that could benefit your special needs child and the relevant care needed in the event of an emergency.

Caring for your medically fragile child in the case of an emergency should also be discussed with the carers and doctors who are part of your healthcare team.  Try to make a plan on how you can communicate with these people during the event of an emergency.

Make sure to speak to the staff at your child’s school and find out where their shelters are and how they will get necessary care if needed.  Write down all of the staff’s phone numbers.

Some Ways To Plan:

  • Think of some backup sources for heat, refrigeration and electricity.  Having a generator is a great idea (although it should NEVER be used indoors due to the dangerous fumes). However, if a generator is not possible then at least know where your local shelter is. Even if you can’t stay there you can still use its resources for charging equipment and using the refrigerator etc.
  • If your child is dependent on life-sustaining treatment then make sure to get the facilities phone numbers and ask about alternative treatment in the event of an emergency. Make sure to know the location of more than one facility.
  • Make an escape route for your home which is known by all family members and is if necessary make it wheelchair accessible. Always keep a pair of shoes under each person’s bed to avoid last minute panic looking for shoes.
  • Get a medical alert/identification bracelet for your child.
  • Know how to tune into your local emergency radio station.
  • Store a two-week supply of canned and preserved food as well as water for all family members.
  • Pack an emergency supply kit with extra medicines at home and make sure to do the same for your child’s school as well.

natural disaster floodingMake A Support Network:

This network should consist of family, friends and neighbours. Teach them about your child and what he needs on a daily basis.  Including giving details of food, drink and medicines.  If he uses a special machine then teach them how to use it.  Teach them how his wheelchair works.  Where and how he likes to sleep.  Give at least two trusted people the key to your house in the case of emergency.

Packing An Emergency Supply Kit:

Obviously, each family will have a slightly different emergency supply kit according to the varying special needs of their child.

Make the supply kit in a waterproof kit bag.

General information and various supplies:

  • A copy of your child’s care plan and current medical information.
  • According to your child’s needs: glasses, batteries for hearing aids and communication devices. Any special dietary foods and equipment including a supply of feeding bags.
  • Items that can entertain or calm your child.
  • Identification for the event of separation.
  • Service animal license (to enable an animal to be able to enter shelter if necessary).

Various power supplies:

  • Generator (again reminder – never to be used indoors).
  • A/C adaptor for your car which could be used for some small equipment.
  • External charger for your cell phone.

emergency preparedness with special needs childrenVarious medical supplies:

  • At least a two-week supply of various medical items including: dressings, syringes, nasal cannulas, suction catheters, feeding bags, diapers, wipes, peg covers, and any other medical equipment your child may use.
  • A two-week supply of all medications.
  • A first-aid kit.
  • Chemical ice packs and cooler for medicines which must be kept cold.
  • Prescription information including the name, address and phone numbers of in and out of town pharmacies.

IMPORTANT:  Update supplies yearly, water every 6 months, and medical contact information as needed.

Well, I think we have pretty much covered the most important things needed in the unfortunate event of a natural disaster.  Hoping you will never need to use it!

If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

With much love,

Hannah (Natan Shai’s Mum)






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