During a weather incident or natural disaster, be sure to follow local news and weather reports, as well as state and local government guidance. Here are some resources for the hurricanes and other disasters:
- CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)
- National Hurricane Center
- En Español Recursos
- General Preparedness & Emergency Shelters
- Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness Resources – Federal, FEMA, Spanish & States in Southeast Region. The Southeast ADA Center is available to answer ADA-related questions and provide any other information and referrals.
Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults and People with Disabilities
Disasters, man-made or natural, can happen at anytime, anywhere, and vary in magnitude. Older adults and people with disabilities have unique and special needs during a crisis. Approximately half of those over age 65 have two or more chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. These conditions increase a person’s vulnerability during periods of time without food, water, shelter, and adequate rest. People with disabilities have some of the same needs as older adults, but they may also have a wider variety of functional limitations, sometimes requiring more supports, many of which could likely be in short supply during a crisis event.
It is critical that individuals, service providers, and communities actively engage in emergency planning. Each person has a responsibility to prepare for potential crisis and make a plan for how to respond. Providers of long-term services and supports must train staff in all emergency actions (evacuation, lock-down, shelter-in-place). Community leaders and first-responders must be prepared to support the health and safety needs of older adults and people with disabilities, engage these populations in the planning process, and—to the maximum extent possible—provide services and supports in integrated Functional Needs Support Shelters.
The only way to ensure the well-being of older adults and people with disabilities during a crisis is through a “whole-community” approach to preparedness. For information and resources about how to support the needs of older adults and people of all ages with disabilities during an emergency, click on the links below under Emergency Preparedness Resources.
AoD Webinar Series
On November 15, 2018 ACL's Administration on Disabilities hosted the first in a series of webinars for its network on emergency preparedness. The first webinar is on Federal, State, and Local Roles and Responsibilities: Addressing the Health of People with Disabilities in Disasters. The purpose of this webinar is to define and explain federal, state and local roles and responsibilities in disasters and public health emergencies. The speakers will provide a summary of guidance and frameworks used at all levels for planning and coordination. The webinar will highlight best practices and examples of effective coordination with community-based organizations to address the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities in disasters.
Materials for 2018 National Preparedness Month
To help educate older adults, people with disabilities, community-based organizations and others about emergency preparation, ACL created some materials with tips on readiness. These are free to download and available to the public for use.
Additionally, view the Ready.gov social media toolkit for National Preparedness Month.
Emergency information card: Download this card and customize with your information to have it ready for responders during an emergency.
Emergency information card to communicate about disability: Download this card and customize with your information to have it ready for responders during an emergency.
Emergency Preparedness Resources
- Individual Preparedness: Best Practices and and Resources
Older adults, people with disabilities, and caregivers can take steps to prepare for emergencies. The majority of older adults and people with disabilities live in the community. Many live alone, but require long-term services and supports in order to reside in the community. Without the appropriate contingencies, mobility limitations, the need for battery or electrically powered medical devices or durable medical equipment, or other functional considerations could negatively impact a person during a crisis. However, by examining each person’s unique needs, it is possible to create person-centered plans that accommodate these needs and maximize independence.
At a minimum, each individual (with the assistance of his or her caregiver, if necessary) should create a kit of emergency necessities. This should include medication, food, water, batteries or chargers, and any supplies that pets or service animals may need. Individuals should also talk to friends, family, and neighbors to create a support network that can help with communication, transportation, and essential care during periods of time when other community-based services and supports are not available. If available, they should learn the locations of the nearest Functional Needs Support Shelters appropriate to their needs.
SAMHSA Disaster Distress Hotline (1-800-985-5990)
- Service Provider Preparedness: Best Practices and Resources
Hospitals, nursing homes, and other providers of long-term services and supports face unique obstacles during a crisis. They are frequently called upon to provide leadership during and after a disaster. And they must make response plans for the safety of their service recipients and staff, during an emergency. Those plans must include well-tested transportation procedures should an evacuation become necessary.
It is essential that all staff members know their roles and responsibilities in the service provider’s emergency response plans—especially during an evacuation. Emergency management plans should be reviewed and tested on a regular basis to build in redundancies, identify gaps, and develop strategies to mitigate any shortcomings.
Many types of providers are required to develop emergency response plan standards for licensure or certification. In addition to these requirements, collaboration with other agencies and participation in community-wide drills and exercises can further ensure that the service provider’s emergency plans are integrated with response efforts at all levels. It is also important to ensure that backup power generators are available and in working order, transportation plans are in place for evacuation, and that policies are in place for emergency communications with relatives of care recipients.
"Healthcare Preparedness Capabilities: National Guidance for Healthcare System Preparedness”, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP), January 2012
- Community Preparedness: Best Practices and Resources
Older adults and people with disabilities are frequently overlooked during the disaster planning, response, and recovery process. Emergency management planning must integrate older adults and people with disabilities of all ages—and their caregivers—into every aspect of community emergency planning, response, and recovery. They should also be included in plan development through public meetings and efforts should be undertaken to hold meetings close to public transportation and at hours when public transportation is in service. Shelters should be surveyed and supplies should be obtained to ensure that they are accessible to older adults, as well as people with disabilities and functional supports needs.
In order to do this, it is critical that officials take a “whole-community” approach when considering the needs of older adults and people with disabilities during and after a crisis. Key players include hospitals, local providers of long-term services and supports, the Area Agencies on Aging, the Centers for Independent Living, Protection & Advocacy organizations, Developmental Disability Councils, Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs, and the Aging and Disability Resource Centers. These organizations should be included in the coordination, planning, and executing of joint exercises with state and local law enforcement and first responders to increase the likelihood that all community members will be considered and protected during an emergency.
HHS emPOWER provides data from Medicare claims data on people who are electric-dependent. This is a helpful tool to use in planning for and addressing power needs during an emergency.
HHS NowTrending tracks current emergency situations to help with response.
- Community-Based Organization Preparedness
Ready Resources Provided in Both English and Spanish
Prepare with the new toolkits and videos.
Organizations and their staff face a variety of hazards. The Ready Business program helps organizations plan for these hazards.
The Ready Business Toolkit series includes hazard-specific versions. The following versions include step-by-step guides in English and Spanish to build preparedness within an organization.
- Earthquake “QuakeSmart” Toolkit
- Hurricane Toolkit
- Inland Flooding Toolkit
- Power Outage Toolkit
- Severe Wind/Tornado Toolkit
The Ready Business videos, available in English and Spanish, briefly explain several key parts of getting ready, such as:
- Staff/Employee Management;
- Physical Surroundings;
- Physical Space;
- Building Construction;
- Systems; and
- Community Service.
Download and view these new resources at www.ready.gov/business.
Emergencies can also harm IT systems. Ready.gov has an IT Disaster Recovery Plan resource.
More resources about emergency preparedness are available at Ready.gov.