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Do 1 Thing: Unique Family Needs

Categories: Do 1 Thing, General, Natural Disasters, Preparedness

Kara's kids learn about preparedness from Ready Wrigley

By Cate Shockey

This blog is part of a series, covering a preparedness topic each month from the Do 1 Thing Program . Join us this month as we discuss preparedness at work, school, and in your community.

This month the Do 1 Thing topic addresses unique family needs.  Because every household is different, it is important to make sure your plan encompasses everyone.  You may need additional supplies to meet the needs of your pets, children, elderly family members, and those with special medical requirements.  Think about who relies on you in an emergency and incorporate them into your planning.

When you are in a hurry, it can be easy to forget that your hamster will also need food, or that your diaper supply for your baby is running low.  Be sure to keep yourself stocked with important items that may not be easy to find after a disaster.   You also want to consider dietary needs, medications, Wrigley and her supplieslanguage barriers, and health-related equipment and devices.

In my household, our “unique family need” is my 7-year old beagle mutt, Wrigley.  Although she is not on any medication, she does need to eat twice and day and have access to water – both of which she cannot do on her own.  In my own emergency supplies, I added a gallon bag of dog food, her medical records with a photo in case we are separated, and the back-up leash. 

Russ at a weddingMy coworker, Maggie, has a brother in-law with Down Syndrome. In addition to having several medications he must take on a daily basis, he also has emotional needs the family takes into consideration. Ever since he was a kid, Russ would crawl into the bathtub at the first sign of a thunderstorm, and now even as an adult he’ll wait out storms in his room until the thunder and lightning have passed. Knowing that Russ adheres to a strict daily schedule and can become distressed during bad weather, the family has to incorporate not only his physical and medical needs, but also Russ’s emotional needs in their disaster plan.

Another unique family need can include small children.  Make sure you talk to your kids about what to do in a fire or other emergency.  My coworker Kara sat down with her two young girls and went through our new Ready Wrigley activity book.  She talked to them about emergencies, how the family would stay in contact, and where the emergency supplies are kept in the house.

Here are a few things you can do this month to make sure the people who count on you are prepared for an emergency:

  • If someone in your household has a disability, create an evacuation plan that works for them.
  • Ask a neighbor to watch out for your pet if there is an emergency and you are not home. This may include evacuating with your pet.Kinsie working on Ready Wrigley
  • Add a few coloring books or games to your emergency supplies for children.
  • If you or someone you love relies on paratransit services, find out what services are provided when an evacuation is ordered.  If services aren’t available, arrange for a pick-up by a friend or neighbor if it is time to evacuate.
  • Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing should make sure that they can receive emergency alerts and warnings in an accessible form.
  • People who speak languages other than English may need to identify sources of alerts and warnings and information about community plans in other languages.
  • People without vehicles should know local plans for public transportation and may need to make arrangements for transportation from local government or other organizations. 
  • People who take medications should maintain an adequate supply, and copies of their prescriptions.
  • People who require power for medical or other assistive devices should consider how they will maintain the use of these devices if there is a loss of power

Check out Do 1 Thing for more tips and information, and start putting your plans in place for unexpected events. Are YOU ready?

Leave a Comment!  Tell us how you have included your family’s unique needs into your emergency plan.

Public Comments

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this blog is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

  1. June 29, 2013 at 9:33 pm ET  -   Eric

    This program is so helpful, no one thinks it will ever happen to them but I know if it did we would be ready. Each month we just choose one thing to do, and I know my wife, kids and I are better prepared!

    Link to this comment

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