If you or someone close to you has a disability or other access or functional need, you may need to take additional steps to prepare yourself and your family. Including creating a Family Emergency Plan and Kit that addresses the specific health and safety needs for you and your family. Your Family Emergency Plan, should address for any specific medical support, transportation, and/or communication needs for you and your family. In your emergency kit, consider adding those specific items that both you and your family will need in order to maintain health, safety and independence.

Who Are Individuals with Access & Functional Needs (AFN)?

Persons with Access and Functional Needs are those individuals with function-based needs (related to a restriction or limited ability to perform activities normally considered routine) that may require assistance before, during, and /or after a disaster or an emergency. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • People with disabilities
  • People who live in institutionalized settings
  • Elderly
  • Children
  • People from diverse cultures
  • People with limited English proficiency/non-English speakers
  • People who are transportation-disadvantaged

Planning Considerations

Depending on the your specific needs or the needs of a family member consider adding the following to a basic emergency kit:

Medical Supplies

  • Extra eyeglasses and/or hearing aids
  • Battery chargers and extra batteries for hearing aids, motorized wheelchairs, or other battery-operated medical or assistive devices
  • Extra medicine, oxygen, insulin, catheters, or other medical supplies you or a family member uses regularly

Documents

  • Medical insurance cards, Medicare/Medicaid cards, physician contact information, list of any allergies and medical history
  • Copies of medical prescriptions, doctor’s orders, and the style and serial numbers of the support devices you or your family member uses
  • Medical alert tags or bracelets, or written descriptions of you or your loved one’s support needs, in case you are unable to describe the situation in an emergency

Other

  • Supplies for a service animal

Think about the overall health and safety needs of you and your family members when you make your Family Emergency Plan. Consider what needs you or your family may have should you have to shelter-in-place or evacuate to a different location. Be sure to:

  • Create a support network to help you plan for an emergency. Consider family, neighbors, friends, service providers, and faith-based and community groups.
  • Tell someone you trust where you keep your emergency supplies and give them a key to your home.
  • Sign up for emergency alerts from your community.
  • Call 2-1-1 for information about critical health and human services available in your area.
  • Keep contact information for local independent living centers, as well as support and services organizations, in a safe, accessible place.
  • Notify your utility provider if you are dependent on electricity to operate a life sustaining device.
  • Provide any necessary organizations or service providers with information about your functional needs and what you may require in an emergency. Keep that information up to date.
  • Work with in-home support services such as Meals on Wheels and Life Alert to personalize an emergency preparedness plan so you can keep in touch with them during and after an emergency.

Medical Support

  • Identify multiple locations to receive dialysis or other life-sustaining medical treatment. Work with your primary provider to create a plan to obtain and ensure essential services in case of a disaster.
  • If you or a family member has a wheelchair, know the size and weight of it and whether it is collapsible in case it has to be transported during an evacuation.
  • Show emergency contacts how to use wheelchairs or other assistive devices.
  • Develop back-up plans for personal assistance services, hospice care, or other forms of in-home assistance.

Transportation and Evacuation

  • Work with local transportation providers and/or disability services (e.g., Paratransit, Independent Living Centers) to plan ahead for accessible transportation.
  • Contact your local Emergency Management Director if you or a family member requires assistance evacuating your home or reaching a local emergency evacuation pick up location.
  • Be ready to explain your specific needs, or those of a family member, to first responders and emergency officials so you receive the necessary support to safely evacuate and find shelter.

For more information see the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Considerations for Individuals with Access and Functional Needs webpage and FEMA's Individuals with Access & Functional Needs webpage.