Emergency preparedness and Special Needs Kids

Being prepared for an emergency is important for everyone, but it is crucial if you have a special needs child in your family. Here in Southern California we tend to focus on earthquakes, but whether you are concerned about doomsday, zombies or natural disasters being ready can make a big difference.

Emergency kits are important, and not only in your home. Schools should have a kit for each child, and if at all possible, your car should also be stocked with basic emergency supplies. Your kit should address your family’s specific daily needs for at least 72 hours. If your child’s disability is invisible you must be sure to explain to first responders that you or another caretaker (and service animal) must remain with your child.

General emergency supplies such as contact info, prescriptions, food and water, a first aid kit, batteries, candles, matches, flashlights, blankets, a radio and baby wipes are a good place to start. Specific special needs emergency supplies may also include:

  • Extra glasses or contacts
  • Epi-pens
  • Breathing supplies or nebulizers
  • Foods for special dietary needs
  • Extra medications, supplements or medical supplies
  • A cooler and ice packs for medications
  • A generator if your child depends on equipment
  • An extra lightweight wheelchair, walker or other medical device
  • Batteries, CDs or a music player for comfort
  • Supplies for any service animals

In an emergency, kids will take their cues from their parents and caregivers so it’s important to stay calm, reassure the child and explain how you plan to keep them safe.

Preparing for a natural disaster or emergency can be scary for kids, so the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a special section for kids that includes games to make the process more fun. The site also has a section for parents and teachers. The American Red Cross has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to put up excellent information and resources on their website. There is even a Sesame Street Emergency Preparedness site.

About the Author

Rosie Reeves is a writer and mother of three; including one with special needs. She works side-by-side with her daughter’s therapists, teachers and doctors. Rosie has also served as the Los Angeles Special Needs Kids Examiner. She can be reached at rosie327@aol.com. Rosie is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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