Living Independently: Disaster Preparedness


Disaster Preparedness:

Most people living in South Florida think of disaster planning as preparing for a hurricane. But disasters can be caused by many events which can happen at any time. The Florida Department of Health provides five categories of disasters:

  • Natural disasters include hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, severe thunderstorms, sink holes, pandemics, earthquakes, blizzards and freezes. (Yes, South Florida has experienced hard freezes, snow, and sleet before!)
  • Manmade disasters include oil and chemical spills, bridge and/or building collapses, fires, train, vehicle, or boating accidents, airplane crashes, explosions and industrial accidents.
  • Biological events include the release of anthrax, botulism, plague, viral hemorrhagic fever, ricin, or tularemia.
    Chemical releases include cynadid compounds, mustard agents, sarin or nerve gas or vx.
  • Radiological events include nuclear power plant failure, dirty bombs that can be made to explode anywhere and release radioactive material.

Planning ahead on what to do during any type of disaster will help those with disabilities return to a calm and rational thought process much quicker. Below are links specifically for Florida and Palm Beach County residents to help prepare for any disaster.


Florida Developmental Disabilities Disaster Ready – Emergency Preparedness for Floridians with Disabilities. This guide can be used by anyone who lives on their own or with friends. It includes information important for people who have disabilities. For the guide Click Here

Palm Beach County Special Needs Registry: Palm Beach County has a Special Needs Shelter for citizens with certain medical problems during an evacuation order. Admittance to these facilities may be restricted to those with the following needs:

  • Electrical dependence (have medical equipment that needs power),
  • Immobile and/or a chronic stable illness,
  • Minor health/medical conditions requiring observations,
  • Need for professional assistance with medications and/or vital sign monitoring, and/or
  • Bedridden and require custodial care.

The Special Needs Shelter is a facility with physicians and nurses on staff. It has auxiliary electrical power, is wind resistant and not flood prone. The shelter is not a medical facility and provides limited services. The shelter does not provide medication, dialysis, oxygen or oxygen concentrators. This program may be used for any emergency requiring evacuation. Space is limited and prioritization is based on need. You must pre-register with the County Emergency Operations Center and have physician authorization! Eligibility is determined by the Health Dept. To Register Click Here

ALERTPBC is Palm Beach County’s Emergency Notification System. Registering for this service allows notifications about dangers in the communities you select to be sent by phone calls, text messaging, email. To register Click Here  or go to their website Click Here

PBC DART (app for Apple and Android products)
Palm Beach County Disaster Awareness and Recovery Tool. This app provides residents with information and tools used to prepare for a disaster and has the ability to report damage to their home or business in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Damage reports help disaster managers get an immediate countywide picture within hours of an event to help prioritize response efforts.

Official Palm Beach County Hurricane Planning Guide

The Guide provides local information needed to prepare for a hurricane from before the storm to after the storm. This guide provides checklists for making a hurricane plan, preparing for a storm, and for building a hurricane kit. It includes local and state contact numbers that may be needed. For the guide Click Here

Palm Beach County Florida Health Department Disaster Preparedness Guide Planning for Emergency Situations.

This plan provides steps to protect yourself and loved ones during natural disasters, man-made disasters, biological events, chemical events, and radiological events. It includes useful medical records forms and checklists of what may be needed in an emergency. For the Guide Click Here

ALS Association Florida Chapter Resources to Help You Plan and Prepare for a Hurricane (or other disaster).

This website provides disaster preparation information for families/caretakers of people diagnosed with ALS. For the website Click Here

FAU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) Family Action Plan

Provides strategies for developing a family plan for families of children with autism. For the plan Click Here

Autism Speaks Natural Disaster Resources for Autism Families.

Provides tips to assist families with creating emergency preparedness and response plans have been adapted from Autism Speaks resources, recommendations from, FEMA, and the Red Cross. For their website Click Here

Hurricanes and other natural disasters can be difficult for people with autism. Sesame Street has put together this video and guide for families following a natural disaster: For their website Click Here

Support After An Emergency

City of Boca Raton Florida Resources, Updates and Assistance.

This website includes vital information for all residences of Boca Raton. It includes resources for special needs and senior citizens. For the website Click Here

American Red Cross Disaster Safety for People with Disabilities.

Helps caretakers create an emergency plan that addresses specific needs. For the website Click Here