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Preparing for Emergencies for People with Mobility Problems

Emergency Preparedness

  •  321-690-6488

    Mailing Address

    2565 Judge Fran Jamieson Way 

    Viera, FL 32940 


Protecting yourself and your family when disaster strikes requires planning ahead. This checklist will help you get started. Discuss these ideas with your family, friends, and/or a personal care attendant.  Prepare an emergency plan and post it where everyone can see it.

Ask Questions 

Call the local emergency management office at 321-637-6670 or the American Red Cross at 321-890-1002.
  • Ask how you would be warned of an emergency.
  • Find out if help is available for evacuation to an emergency shelter. Many communities ask people with a disability to register, usually with the local fire department or emergency management office, so help can be provided quickly in an emergency.
  • Ask your supervisor about emergency plans at your workplace and what provisions have been made to assist you to evacuate if needed.
  • Ask your children's teachers and caregivers about emergency plans for schools and day-care centers.
  • If you currently have a personal care attendant obtained from an agency, check to see if the agency has special provisions for emergencies (including providing services at another location should an evacuation be ordered).

Create a Plan 

Because a disaster can disrupt your primary plan, it is important to have a backup plan ready to ensure your safety.

  • Meet with household members and/or your personal care attendant to discuss what measures you might have to take in case of fire, severe weather or other emergencies.
  • Learn what you will need to do for each type of emergency.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers near telephones and teach your children how and when to call for help.
  • Learn what to do in case of power outages and personal injuries. Know how to connect or start a back-up power supply for essential medical equipment.
  • If you or someone in your household uses a wheelchair, make more than one exit from your home wheelchair-accessible in case the primary exit is blocked.
  • Arrange for a relative or neighbor to check on you in an emergency. Also arrange for a backup person to check on you.
  • Learn how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at main valves or switches.
  • Plan and practice how to escape from your home in an emergency.
  • Consider getting a medical alert system that will allow you to call for help if you are immobilized.
  • If you live in an apartment, ask management, in advance, where accessible exits are located.
  • Learn your community evacuation routes.
  • Pick one out-of-state and one local friend or relative for family members to call if separated by disaster.
  • Pick two meeting places: A place near your home in case of fire, and a place outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home after a disaster.

Prepare a Disaster Supply Kit 

In addition to the supplies listed in the Disaster Supply Kit, you may need the following:
  • An extra pair of eyeglasses.
  • Extra hearing aid batteries.
  • Extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, medication, catheters, food for guide or service dogs, or other special equipment you might need.
  • A list of family physicians and the relative or friend who should be notified if you are injured, along with a backup contact person.
  • A list of the style and serial numbers of medical devices such as pacemakers.
  • Store back-up equipment, such as a manual wheelchair, at a neighbor's home, school, or your workplace.

Have an Escape Plan 

In a fire or other emergency, you may need to evacuate on a moment's notice. Be ready to get out fast.

Develop an escape plan by drawing a floor plan of your home. Show the location of doors, windows, stairways, ramps, elevators, large furniture, your Disaster Supply Kit, fire extinguishers, first aid kits and main circuit-breaker boxes.

Indicate at least two exit routes from each room and mark a place outside the home where family members or your personal care attendant should meet in case of fire.

Keep Your Home Hazard-Free 

In a disaster, anything that can move, fall, break, cause a fire or impede your mobility is a potential hazard.
  • Repair defective electrical wiring. Smell for leaky gas connections. If you smell gas, turn the gas off and call a professional to repair it.
  • Keep the shut-off switch for oxygen equipment near your bed or chair, so you can get to it quickly and turn it off, if there is a fire.
  • Secure large oxygen tanks so they cannot fall over.
  • Fasten shelves securely to the wall. Place large, heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Hang pictures and mirrors away from beds. Bolt large pictures or mirrors to wall studs.

If You Need to Evacuate 

  • Shut off water, gas and electricity if instructed to do so.
  • Let others know when you left and where you are going.
  • Enact your pet plan.
  • Take your Disaster Supply Kit.
  • Lock your home.
  • Use evacuation routes specified or special assistance provided by local officials.
  • Confirm upon arrival at a shelter that it can meet any special care needs that you may require. If your shelter cannot, consider seeking an alternative shelter that can meet your needs if the situation allows.

Prepare a Car Kit 

  • Battery-operated radio, flashlight, extra batteries and maps.
  • Blanket and first aid kit.
  • Shovel.
  • Tire repair kit, booster cables, pump and flares.
  • Fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type).
  • Bottled water and non-perishable foods that conform with special dietary needs such as granola bars, raisins and cookies.

Fire Safety 

  • Plan two exit routes out of each room. Use the stairways to leave the building or to get to the "area of rescue assistance". Never use the elevators.
  • Install smoke detectors. Clean and test smoke detectors once a month. Change batteries at least once a year.
  • Consider installing home sprinklers.
  • If there is a fire, do not try to fight the fire. Get out fast.
  • Feel the bottom of the door with the palm of your hand before opening it. If it is hot, use your second way out.
  • Do not stop for pets or possessions. Call the fire department after you are outside.
  • Never go back into a burning building.

For more information, please visit the Florida Disaster Disability Planning website.