Special Needs and Children
The elderly, sick, disabled, pregnant women and children all have special needs during hurricanes.
• Minimize stress: Help children cope better by minimizing stressful situations and discussions.
• Limit TV time: Don’t let your kids watch scary footage of the storm on TV.
• Pre-register for special needs shelters: If you think you will have to evacuate and are bringing a special needs or disabled person with you, pre-register to ensure space and adequate care.
• Maintain normal routines: Keeping up with a normal routine helps soothe everyone from babies to adults.
• Call the doctor: Pregnant women and special needs patients should communicate with their doctors to let them know your plan for riding out the storm or evacuating.
• FEMA for Kids: As long as you have power, direct kids to this colorful site that includes games, cartoons, quizzes and information about hurricanes, presented in a friendly manner.
• Contact home health care service: If you use a home health care service, call them and ask them to check on you during and after the storm.
• Answer children’s questions: Welcome questions from children about what to do, what a hurricane is, and how to prepare for it.
• Get older kids to help: School-aged children will feel more prepared and maybe even excited if they’re allowed to help gather blankets and find batteries.
• Bunk with the neighbors: If you’re elderly, ask to spend the night at the neighbors’ house, or work out some kind of signal for help should you need it and if the phones go out.
• Clean up clutter: If the power goes out, or an elderly person is in a new home, he or she may be more likely to fall.
• Stay hydrated: People who are sick and the elderly are especially at risk for dehydration.
• Know the risks: Disabled individuals will find it harder to evacuate, so know all the obstacles and risks involved in transporting them or keeping them safe in your home.
Find out what to do if an evacuation is in order.
• Find a place for pets ahead of time: If you’re unable to take your pets with you, make arrangements ahead of time, and never leave your pet chained up or alone on your property. It’s cruel.
• Get a real map: You may not be able to rely on your GPS, especially if roads are blocked or flooded. Get a real map to help you find your way out.
• Plan meeting places: Pick two or three meeting places — one inside your home, one inside your neighborhood, and one outside your neighborhood for whenever the storm hits or where you plan to evacuate.
• Sleeping bag: Get a sleeping bag, blankets and pillows ready if you have to evacuate.
• Keep your gas tank at least half full: Fill it up all the way unless authorities are rationing it, but even when you’re on the road, try not to let your tank get lower than half full.
• Familiarize yourself with evacuation routes: There should be standard routes, but listen to the news to learn about any new or updated routes.
• Plan to stay with friends: Hotels will book up quickly, so plan to stay with friends or family who live inland at least for the first couple of nights.
• Find out if you live in an evacuation zone: You may not even have to worry about evacuating.
• Leave when you’re told: Avoid the worst traffic, road closures and getting stuck behind by leaving right when you’re told to go.
• Carefully inspect your home upon return: Before letting children back, watch for snakes, rats, hanging electrical wires and loose debris.