People with Special Needs

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chad A. Bascom/Released) 130129-N-KA543-028

If you or someone close to you has a disability or special needs, you should make special preparations in case of an emergency. Wounded, ill, injured, and exceptional family members could have increased complications during an evacuation. Those with traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress, visual, hearing, or mental disabilities may be especially fearful or reluctant to leave familiar surroundings. They may also be dependent on devices or medications that need to travel with them. To adequately prepare for every possible emergency situation, consider making the following arrangements.

Preparing for an Emergency

  • Be informed of any hazards.
  • Check for hazards in your home and workplace.
  • Make the necessary preparations and know what needs to happen during an emergency.
  • Make a written emergency plan.
  • Discuss your needs with family members, neighbors, and co-workers.
  • Know more than one location of a medical facility that provides the services you need.
  • Have a list with the types and models of any equipment or devices you need.
  • Make sure those around you know how to operate any necessary equipment.
  • Build an emergency kit.
  • Inventory what you use every day to live independently. Identify the essential things that you will need to be able to survive for three to five days or longer, if people cannot get to you.
  • Add any necessary supplies such as wheelchair batteries, catheters, oxygen, medication, food for service animals, or other special supplies to your emergency kit.
  • Do not assume that you or your loved one has been factored into an evacuation plan.
  • If you are physically disabled, study the evacuation plan of any building from which you might evacuate. If necessary, know if and where an Evacuation Chair (EVAC+CHAIR) is located, and make sure someone knows how to operate it.
  • Prepare any instructions you need to give rescuers or others who may be around you. Use concise verbal directions, or carry written instructions with you at all times.
  • If you or your loved one are a seriously wounded, ill, or injured Sailor or Coast Guardsmen,  Navy Wounded Warrior-Safe Harbor may be able to help in coordinating non-medical care. Call before an emergency strikes.
  • If a caregiver, consider completing a caregiver contingency plan to document all those details of your loved ones’ care you know by heart in the event that someone else needs to fill in for you in an emergency. Click the following links to access a sample caregiver contingency plan (CCP).

    CCP Workbook                      Daily Activity Log                  Binder Tabs

Note: (Provision of this resource does not represent an endorsement of Quality of Life Foundation.)

Preparing your Workplace for an Emergency

  • Become a member of your office emergency preparedness team. You best know your needs before, during, and after an emergency.
  • Know all emergency exits and ramp locations.
  • Ensure that emergency notification systems and procedures have been established to accommodate your needs, i.e. sound-based systems for visual impairments, text-based systems for auditory impairments, or simple cues for cognitive impairments.
  • If you require help evacuating the building, create and practice a plan with a designated support team.
  • Have a “Go Kit” with you at work with essential items you would need if you had to evacuate.
  • Identify an area where public safety officials can assist you in any building you visit regularly.

What to Do During an Emergency

  • If told to evacuate, do so if it is possible with the help of others.
  • If you are unable to evacuate, wait where you are for rescuers.
  • Take your emergency kit, including any necessary items, with you.
  • Stay as calm as possible to be a help to those around you.
  • Once you are in a safe place, muster with your command if you are military or civilian personnel or a member of the selective reserves.

What to Do After a Declared Emergency

  • After a declared emergency, register your needs with the Navy through the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS) at or call 1-877-414-5358 or 1-866-297-1971 (TDD).

Where to Find Additional Information

Be Ready Navy—Be informed before, during, and after an incident; make a written family emergency plan; and build an emergency supply kit good for at least three days.

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