Catalog Search

888-NLS-READ (888-657-7323)

Emergency Preparedness

During an emergency, electricity, telecommunications, and medical facilities that people rely on can be severely compromised. Familiar travel routes can be blocked. Gas or water left on in the home can result in secondary disasters such as fires or floods. Water, food, and personal hygiene products might be unavailable for purchase or may be in short supply. The places people are most familiar with may be cordoned off or unavailable in the interest of public safety.

For people who are blind, have low vision, or are physically disabled, emergency situations can be especially challenging. Their mobility may be limited, they may not be able to access the technology or electrical infrastructure that they rely on, and emergency workers may not be able to adequately communicate instructions or procedures to them.

This emergency preparedness reference guide provides resources and information for people with visual impairment, blindness, or other physical disabilities who wish to proactively plan for emergencies as well as recovering after one. The first section, Resources for Emergency Preparedness, provides tools for people to use during an array of emergencies, as well as information on temporary housing and aids for recovery after an emergency. This guide concludes with a bibliography that provides suggestions for further reading.


Resources for Emergency Preparedness

Accessible Emergency Information
Northeast Texas Public Health District External

Eighteen emergency preparedness topics presented in American Sign Language videos, braille, and large print documents.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Checklist for Emergency Shelters
Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section External

Includes the ADA checklist for emergency shelters, accessible shelter quick-check survey, information on the transportation of people with disabilities to the shelter, and disaster housing for people with disabilities at an emergency shelter.

Communication Technology for Disaster Survivors
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) [PDF, 86 KB / 2 p.] External

Lists assistive devices for people with disabilities found at FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers.

Disability Fire Safety Project
Michael H. Minger Foundation External

Offers a series of short videos on campus fire safety for students with disabilities.

Disability Information
Campus Firewatch External

Lists resources for students with disabilities and their parents and caregivers on fire safety at colleges and universities. Includes videos for instructors on how to teach fire safety to
students with disabilities and videos featuring students with disabilities talking about fire safety at their schools.

Disaster Recovery Center Locator
FEMA External

Uses address or geolocation to search for local Disaster Recovery Centers and provides hours of operation, services offered, and driving directions.

Disaster Safety for People with Disabilities
American Red Cross External

Provides information on how to become “Red Cross Ready.” Topics include how to make a survival kit and an emergency plan, how to make a backup plan, and what to do if an evacuation occurs.

Earthquake Preparedness Guide for Blind & Visually Impaired Persons
Central United States Earthquake Consortium [PDF, 70 KB / 2 p.] External

Provides information for blind and visually impaired people on how to respond before, during, and after an earthquake.

Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities
National Fire Protection Association External

Contains information on building evacuation plans for people with visual and mobility impairments.

Emergency Preparedness
American Foundation for the Blind External

Outlines the information people with disabilities should have in their emergency kits. Covers creating a list of emergency contacts and phone numbers, setting up a buddy system with a local Red Cross or firehouse, and learning alternative transit routes and systems.

Emergency Preparedness and People Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired
New Jersey Council of the Blind External

Provides step-by-step emergency preparedness actions for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, ways to create a barrier-free environment during emergencies, and ideas for engaging communities in emergency preparedness management.

Emergency Preparedness for Your Service Animal or Pet
American Council for the Blind External

Gives tips on preparing service animals for emergencies from the American Red Cross, Human Society of the United States, and Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division Disability Rights Section, and guide dog users. Includes contact information of contributing organizations.

Emergency Tips for People with Hearing Impairments
FEMA [PDF, 41 KB / 1 p.] External

Offers tips for people who are deaf and hearing impaired to be ready for emergencies, such as how to use a visual smoke alarm, and having an emergency communication strategy.

Emergency Tips for People with Visual Disabilities
FEMA [PDF, 40 KB / 1 p.] External

Provides emergency preparedness tips for people who have visual disabilities, including such as creating alternative mobility cues, labeling emergency supplies in braille, and backing up computer data regularly.

Fire Safety Outreach Materials for Older Adults
U.S. Fire Administration External

Offers a Fire-Safe Seniors program toolkit and handouts.

Fire Safety Outreach Materials for People with Disabilities
U.S. Fire Administration External

Provides home fire and safety materials for people with disabilities.

Hurricane Preparedness for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
Braille Works External

Gives eight tips for hurricane preparedness for people who are blind. Shares how to make a
hurricane kit designed for people with visual impairments and information about pets and service animals.

Operation Hurricane Prepare
AARP Create the Good External

Helps neighbors and friends prepare for hurricane season by offering a step-by-step guide on how to make a hurricane emergency kit.

People with Disabilities
National Fire Protection Association External

Offers fire safety educational materials and links for people with disabilities. Includes the video Disabilities: Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, Where We’re Going and audio presentations on safety challenges and evacuation planning guides for people with disabilities.

Perspectives of Occupants with Mobility Impairments on Fire Evacuation and Elevators
National Institute of Standards and Technology [PDF, 2.8 MB / 95 p.] External

This 2016 report provides feedback on the safety and efficacy of fire and elevator evacuation procedures based on face-to-face interviews with people who have mobility impairments. Includes recommendations.

Preparedness Tips for People with Mobility Disabilities
American Public Health Association External

Offers advice for people with mobility disabilities on how to plan for emergencies. Available in audio, as a PDF, and in Spanish.

Prepare Yourself: Disaster Readiness Tips for People with Disabilities
National Organization on Disability [PDF, 167 KB / 2 p.] External

This brochure on emergency preparedness for people with disabilities offers a list of resources including the Human Society of the U.S. Disaster Center.

Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and Other Special Needs
FEMA, American Red Cross (txt) External [PDF, 731 KB / 20 p.] External

Gives advice and shares checklists and other resources to help people with disabilities prepare for a disaster.

Remembering When
National Fire Protection Association External

Provides a fire and fall prevention program for older adults.

Residential Building Fires Involving Individuals with Physical Disabilities
U.S. Fire Administration [PDF, 899 KB / 10 p.] External

Report includes statistics, advice, and resources on residential building fires involving people with physical disabilities.

Safety for People with Disabilities
National Fire Protection Association External

Provides fire prevention and preparedness tips for people with disabilities.

Social Etiquette: Tips for Firefighters Who Work with People with Disabilities
Fire Safety Solutions for Oklahomans with Disabilities [PDF, 613 KB / 10 p.] External

Offers a guide for firefighters and other emergency personnel who serve people with disabilities.

Social Media Toolkit: Fire Safety for People with Disabilities
United States Fire Administration External

Provides free content to share on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media to increase awareness of fire safety for people with disabilities. Copy or customize for specific audiences.

State Emergency Management Agencies and Offices
FEMA External

Find contact information for emergency management agencies and offices.


AARP Texas. “Are You Prepared for a Hurricane?” Last modified July 8, 2010. External

Ashida, Sato, Erin L. Robinson, Jane Gay, and Marizen Ramirez. “Motivating Rural Older Residents to Prepare for Disasters: Moving beyond Personal Benefits.” Ageing and Society 36, no. 10–11 (2016): 2117–2140.

Bennett, DeeDee, Brenda D. Phillips, and Elizabeth Davis. “The Future of Accessibility in Disaster Conditions: How Wireless Technologies Will Transform the Life Cycle of Emergency Management.” Futures 87 (March 2018): 122–32.

Chongming Wang. “Bracing For Hurricanes: A Qualitative Analysis of the Extent and Level of Preparedness among Older Adults.” Gerontologist 58, no. 1 (2018): 57–67.

Coty, Mary-Beth. “Home Fire Safety Beliefs and Practices in Homes of Urban Older Adults.” Geriatric Nursing 36, no. 3 (2015): 177–81.

Gerber, Elaine. “Describing Tragedy: The Information Access Needs of Blind People in Emergency-Related Circumstances.” Human Organization 68, no. 1 (2009): 73–81.

Jenkins, Jo Ann. “Helping Victims of the Recent Hurricanes.” AARP Bulletin 58, no. 8 (2017): 42.

Lane, Sandi J., and Elizabeth McGrady. “Measures of Emergency Preparedness Contributing to Nursing Home Resilience.” Journal of Gerontological Social Work 61, no. 7 (2018): 751–74.

Nukpezah, Julius A., and Ismail Soujaa. “Creating Emergency Prepared Households—What Really Are the Determinants of Household Emergency Preparedness?” Risks, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy 9, no. 4 (2018): 480–504.

Skotzko, Stacey. “A Special Need for Readiness.” CQ Weekly 69, no. 14 (2011): 736.

Smetanka, Lori, and Beverley Laubert. “Emergency Preparedness: When Is It Enough?” Aging Today 39, no. 1 (January 2018): 1–14.

Sprong, Matthew E., James L. Soldner, and Bryan K. Dallas. “Emergency Preparedness Knowledge and Confidence in Providing Services for People with Disabilities: An Exploratory Analysis among Rehabilitation Counseling Students.” Journal of Rehabilitation 84, no. 3 (2018): 57–65.

Szpytek, Stan. 2017. “Ready or Not: The New Disaster Preparedness Rules.” iAdvance Senior Care 66, (5) (Fall): 32-35.

Warnick, Melody. “Right Where You Belong.” Psychology Today. July 2016. External

Wilder, Steve. 2014. “Long-Term Care Emergency Preparedness.” Long-Term Living 63, no. 5: 32–33.
Wyte-Lake, Tamar, Maria Claver, Claudia Der-Martirosian, Darlene Davis, and Aram Dobalian. “Education of Elderly Patients about Emergency Preparedness by Health Care Practitioners.” American Journal of Public Health 108 (September 2018): S207–8.

May 2019

Back to Top

Have a question? Need assistance? NLS librarians are here to help you. Email [email protected] email icon

Skip to main content