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We're all in this together: Help for individuals with access or functional needs

If you or someone close to you has a disability or other access or functional need, you may have to take additional steps to protect yourself and your family.

Be Informed

Communicating with family members is essential to make sure everyone is okay. To prepare for an emergency, have a simple plan that accounts for limited cell phone service, texting, or e-mails. Make sure everyone in your family has a mutual contact out of the region or state. This person can act as a contact point for you and your loved ones.

  • Sign up for Emergency Alerts
    •  Check with your local city or town public safety office to see if it uses an alert system and what you might need to do to sign up.
    • If you speak languages other than English, find places to get alerts in your language. This could be a friend, family member, or a news organization.
    • If you are deaf or hard of hearing learn more about how to receive emergency warnings in an accessible form
    • Check with community, faith-based and cultural groups to see if they have ways to help keep people informed.
  • Prepare a Family Emergency Communications Plan
  • Stay engaged through social media:
  • Visit MA 211 for information on essential community services

Plan Ahead

If you or someone close to you has a disability or other access or functional need, you may have to take additional steps to protect yourself and your family. Think about your health needs, vulnerabilities and capabilities when you make your emergency preparedness plan. Whether you are sheltering-in-place or evacuating to a different location, a plan will help keep you and your loved ones safe.

  • The Massachusetts Office on Disability brings together people with disabilities and local emergency preparedness professionals to ensure that people with disabilities have the assistance they need in times of emergency. For more information, please visit Disability Emergency Preparedness.
  • The University of Massachusetts Medical School Shriver Center has worked to address the emergency preparedness needs of children and adults with disabilities and special health care issues, fostering development of individual, family and organizational preparedness knowledge, skills, and resilience.
  • Ready.gov is a national campaign designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural and man-made disasters. Visit Ready.gov preparedness for planning information and resources specific to individuals with access and functional needs.
  • Emergency Readiness for People with Disabilities is a federal website containing information and resources for individuals with disabilities and their family members including actions that can be taken to plan and prepare for emergencies.
  • DisastersRus links individuals to essential information for people with disabilities, their family members, care providers, emergency managers, planners and responders.
  • Coping with Disasters is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It provides general strategies for promoting mental health and resilience prior to, during and after natural or human-engineered disasters.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities and resources are available for coping with disasters and traumatic events.

Be Prepared

Every home should have a basic emergency preparedness kit that can be used for any emergency. Store your kit in an area that is dry and easy to get to. Review your kit every six months to identify and replace outdated supplies. While some items should be in everyone’s kit, it is important to adapt the kit for the needs of you and your family.

Download a free emergency kit checklist and customize to your specific needs. These downloadable forms include: 

Printed copies of the brochure are available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. To order copies, please visit the Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse.

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