Skip to: Page Content | Menu Bar | Main Navigation | Search | Page Footer

Emergency Management

Preparing for Emergencies

Preparing for Emergencies
A Checklist for People with Mobility Challenges

For the millions of Americans with mobility problems, emergencies such as fires and floods present a special challenge. 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 or a personal care attendant and prepare an emergency plan. Post the plan where everyone will see it.

Emergency Checklist

Create a Plan

  • Meet with household members or your personal care attendant. Discuss the dangers of fire, severe weather, earthquakes and other emergencies that might occur in your community.
  • Determine what you will need to do for each type of emergency. For example, most people head for a basement when there is a tornado warning but most basements are not wheelchair accessible. Determine in advance what your alternative shelter will be and how you will get there.
  • 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 powder 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 in a disaster.
  • Teach those who may need to assist you in an emergency how to operate necessary equipment.
  • Arrange for a relative or neighbor to check on you in an emergency.
  • 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 in an emergency.
  • If you live in an apartment, ask the management to identify and mark accessible exits.
  • Learn your community's evacuation routes.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio for emergency information.
  • Pick one out-of-state and one local friend or relative for family members to call if separated by disaster.
  • Pick two meeting places:
    1. A place near your home in case of fire.
    2. A place outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home after a disaster.
  • Keep family records in a watertight, fire-proof container.

Prepare a Disaster Supplies Kit

Assemble supplies you might need in an evacuation. Store them in an easy to carry container such as a backpack or duffle bag.

  • A battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries for them.
  • A first aid kit, prescription medicines and an extra pair of glasses.
  • A supply of water (one gallon per person per day). Store water in sealed, unbreakable containers. Identify the storage date and replace every six months.
  • A supply of non-perishable food and a non-electric can opener plus any special foods you require.
  • If you have a baby include extra diapers and other infant care items.
  • Extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, medication, catheters, food for guide or service dogs or other special equipment you might need.
  • A change of clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes.
  • Blankets or sleeping bags.
  • A list of family physicians and the relative or friend who should be notified if you are injured.
  • A list of the style and serial numbers of medical devices such as pacemakers.
  • An extra set of car keys.
Also ...
  • Store back-up equipment such as a manual wheelchair at your neighbor's home, school or your workplace.

Home Hazard Hunt

In a disaster, anything that can move, fall, break or cause a fire 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 if there is a fire.
  • Fasten shelves securely to the wall. Place large, heavy objects on lower shelves or the floor.
  • Hang pictures and mirrors away from beds. Bolt large pictures or mirrors to the wall.
  • Secure water heater by strapping it to a nearby wall.
  • Repair cracks in ceilings or foundations. Brace overhead light fixtures.
  • Store weed killers, pesticides and flammable products away from heat sources.
  • Have chimneys, flue pipes, vents connectors and gas vents cleaned and repaired by a professional.

If You Need to Evacuate

  • Listen to a battery-powered radio for the location of emergency shelters. Know in advance the location of wheelchair accessible shelters. Follow instructions of local officials.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and sturdy shoes.
  • Take your Disaster Supplies Kit.
  • Lock your house.
  • Use travel routes specified or special assistance provided by local officials.
  • If you are sure you have time
    • Shut off water, gas and electricity if instructed to do so.
    • Let others know when you left and where you are going.
    • Make arrangements for pets. Animals other than service animals may not be allowed in public shelters.

Prepare a Car Kit


  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries and maps.
  • Blanket and first aid kit.
  • Shovel.
  • Tire repair kit, booster cables, airpump and flares.
  • Fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type).
  • Bottled water and nonperishable foods such as granola bars, raisins and cookies.

Fire Safety

  • Plan two escape routes out of each room. If you cannot use the stairways, make special arrangements for help in advance. 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. Do not stop for pets or possessions. Call the fire department after you are outside. Never go back into a burning building.
  • Feel the bottom of the door with the palm of your hand. If it is hot, find another way out.

For more information or presentations on a number of topics contact us at: 402-441-7441