Special Needs and Seniors

Are you prepared for the next disaster?

Although Hurricanes pose the strongest threat to coastal regions, storms that form in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico have the potential to bring storm surge, high winds, tornadoes and inland flooding across Georgia. It is important to take time now to prepare in advance.

  • Prepare by assembling a Ready kit of supplies for both your home and your car.
  • Make a plan for responding to various threats and reconnecting with family members if you are separated during a disaster.
  • Stay informed about your risk for a range of emergencies and make sure you have a way to stay connected during a disaster.

Make Your Own Ready Kit

Make your own Ready kit with the items on the checklist below. Most of the items are inexpensive and easy to find, and any one of them could save your life. Headed to the store? Once you take a look at the basic items, consider what unique needs you might have. See Pets. Add those items to your kit and start packing it today.

Recommended Items

  • Water  – One gallon per person per day, for at least 3 days, for drinking and hygiene
  • Food – At least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Can opener – For food, if kit contains canned food
  • Radio – Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle – To signal for help
  • Face mask – To help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties – For personal hygiene
  • Wrench or pliers – To turn off utilities
  • Local maps

Additional Items

  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
  • Cash or traveler’s checks and change
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider adding bedding in cold weather
  • Complete change of clothing. Include a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider adding clothing in cold weather
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, plastic utensils, paper towels
  • Paper and pencil

Get Ready

Extreme Heat

Temperatures that hover 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for the region and last for several weeks are defined as extreme heat. Heat kills by taxing the human body beyond its abilities. In Georgia, it is not unusual for temperatures to soar into the 90s.

Floods and Flash Floods

Floods are the second most common and widespread of all natural disasters, after fire. In Georgia, most communities experience some kind of flooding after spring rains or heavy thunderstorms.

House Fires

Each year, household fires cause almost 4,000 Americans deaths and more than 25,000 injuries. Many residential fire-related deaths remain preventable through planning and proper response.


As a coastal state, Georgia is particularly at risk for hurricanes. Storms that form in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico have the potential to affect our state. Every resident should plan what to do in the event of an evacuation.

Thunderstorms and Lightning

All thunderstorms are dangerous because they can produce strong winds, lightning, tornadoes, hail and flash flooding. The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes.


Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. They can appear without warning and can be invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears. Planning and practicing specifically how and where you take shelter is a matter of survival.


More and more people are making their homes in wooded settings near forests and remote mountains sites. There, homeowners enjoy the beauty of the environment, but face the very real danger of wildfires.

Develop a Communications Plan

Your family may not be together when disaster strikes. Make a plan today. Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.

Special Needs

Making a plan that fits your needs ensures everyone can be ready for emergencies before they happen. The video below provides emergency preparedness instructions in sign language for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.


In addition to the basic survival supplies, a Ready kit should contain items to meet your individual needs in various emergencies. Consider the items you use on a daily basis and which ones you may need to add to your kit, or use our custom profile tool to create your list.

Specifically for the deaf

  • A weather radio with text display and a flashing alert
  • Extra hearing-aid batteries
  • A TTY
  • Pen and paper in case you have to communicate with someone who does not know sign language

Other items

  • At least a week-long supply of prescription medicines, along with a list of all medications, dosage, and any allergies
  • Extra eyeglasses and hearing-aid batteries
  • Extra wheelchair batteries and/or oxygen
  • A list of the style and serial number of medical devices. Include special instructions for operating your equipment if needed
  • Copies of medical insurance and Medicare cards
  • Contact information for doctors, relatives or friends who should be notified if you are hurt.
  • Pet food, extra water, collar with ID tag, medical records and other supplies for your service animal

Stay Informed

Make sure you know how to respond to the different types of disasters that could affect your area. Know which disasters may require you to evacuate and when it’s best to shelter in place.


How might a disaster affect you? Could you make it on your own for three days? After a disaster, you may not have access to a medical facility or even a drugstore, so it’s crucial to plan for the resources you use regularly, and what you would do if those resources are limited or not available. Additional planning steps should include:

  • Create a support network. Keep a contact list in a watertight container in your kit
  • Inform your network of where you keep your emergency supplies and give one member a key to your house or apartment
  • Contact your city or county government’s emergency information management office. Many local offices keep lists of people with disabilities so they can be helped quickly in a sudden emergency
  • If you are dependent on dialysis or other life-sustaining treatment, know the location and availability of more than one facility
  • Show others how to operate your wheelchair. Know the size and weight of your wheelchair, in addition to whether or not it is collapsible, in case it has to be transported
  • If you use medical equipment in your home that requires electricity, talk to your doctor or health care provider about how you can prepare for its use during a power outage.
  • Wear medical alert tags or bracelets
  • If you have a communication disability, make sure your emergency information notes the best way to communicate with you.


If you are one of the almost 800,000 Georgians over age 65, emergency planning should reflect your unique needs. Surviving tomorrow’s disaster often depends on the preparation made today.


Start with the basic Ready kit items, then add supplies to meet your unique daily needs:

  • Extra eyeglasses, hearing aids and hearing aid batteries, wheelchair batteries and oxygen
  • Extra medications and copies of all prescriptions, in case there is no access to a drugstore or medical facility. Include dosage and a list of allergies
  • Contact information for your doctors; copies of Medicare cards insurance
  • Copies of important documents in a watertight container:
    • Family records, wills, power of attorney documents, deeds, bank information, tax records, cash or travelers checks, names and contact information of your support network

Stay Informed

  • Know what disasters could affect your area, which could call for an evacuation and when to shelter in place
  • Georgia is prone to extreme heat. If you don’t have home air conditioning, plan to go to an air-conditioned location for at least a few hours during extreme weather to avoid heat stroke
  • Keep a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to your local emergency station and monitor TV and radio warnings about severe weather in your area.


Next, determine any special assistance you may need, and include in your emergency plan.

  • Create a support network of family, friends and others who can assist you during an emergency, and share your disaster plans with them. Practice your plan with them.
    • Make sure they have an extra key to your home, know where you keep your emergency supplies and how to use lifesaving equipment or administer medicine.
  • If you undergo routine treatments administered by a clinic or hospital, find out their emergency plans and work with them to identify back-up service providers
  • If you have a communication-related disability, note the best way to communicate with you
  • Don’t forget your pets or service animals. Not all shelters accept pets, so plan for alternatives.
    • Consider loved ones or friends outside of your immediate area
    • Prepare a Ready kit for your pet (See Pets).

Get your benefits electronically. A disaster can disrupt mail service for days or weeks. If you depend on Social Security or other regular benefits, switching to electronic payments is a simple, significant way to protect yourself financially before disaster strikes. It also eliminates the risk of stolen checks. The U.S. Department of the Treasury recommends two safer ways to get federal benefits:

  • Direct deposit to a checking or savings account. Federal benefit recipients can sign up by calling 800 333.1795 or at www.GoDirect.org.
  • The Direct Express® prepaid debit card is designed as a safe and easy alternative to paper checks. Call toll-free at 877 212.9991 or sign up online.

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