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Child with Special Needs: Is Your Family Prepared for a Disaster?

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
05/10/16  10:36 AM PST
child with special needs

If your family experiences a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, hurricane or tornado, are you prepared with a plan and supplies to care for your child with special needs? Many families that have children with special needs don’t have a plan in place to get to safety, obtain supplies or contact healthcare professionals.

Disaster Planning for Your Child with Special Needs

If your child has a feeding pump or other medical device that requires power, notify your electric company that you have medical devices in your home. You may have priority to get power returned to your home after an outage.

Keep your feeding pump plugged in and charging whenever possible to save battery power. A fully charged pump will run for several hours.

Talk to your doctor about a backup feeding method in case of a power outage. You may be able to keep a couple of gravity feeding bags on hand in case your feeding pump cannot get power.

Have contact numbers for your medical supply company and the case manager at your child’s health plan handy. Know the locations of all of the hospitals and emergency rooms in your area.

Keep digital and written copies of information about your child’s medical condition, medications and devices. The Emergency Information Form for Children with Special Needs has spaces for just about all the information healthcare professionals should know about your child with special needs.

Emergency Information Form for Children with Special NeedsEmergency Information Form for Children with Special Needs 2

Prepare your child with special needs for a potential disaster and explain what is happening. Children with special needs may lack the skills necessary to deal with an emergency.

Your Child with Special Needs Disaster Kit should Include:

  • First aid kit
  • Enough extra water and nonperishable food or formula to last your family at least 3 days
  • Thumb drive containing a copy of your child’s Emergency Information Form
  • Paper copy of your child’s Emergency Information Form signed by your child’s doctor (keep this in a plastic or waterproof bag)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • List of medical supplies your child uses

Disaster Planning Resources for Your Child with Special Needs

Red Cross

Center for Children with Special Needs

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


For more information, see related articles and resources for families with children with special needs here:


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