Special Needs

Functional Needs Support Services

In the context of emergency management, to say a person has a "functional need" and/or requires "support services" implies that the person, given the availability and effectiveness of their individual support systems, can comfortably and safely function under usual circumstances. However, that person's ability to comfortably and safely function may be challenged during or after an emergency, if their individual support systems are unavailable or ineffective. Functional needs populations include individuals with physical, sensory, or intellectual disabilities; people with mental health issues; children; people who are elderly; persons' whose primary language is something other than English; individuals medically or chemically dependent; people geographically and culturally isolated; people who are homeless; people who do not drive; and others, all of whom may experience functional needs in an emergency.

Planning Ahead

People with functional needs and/or requiring support services, should plan appropriately for emergencies. Planning should include: building a support network of friends and relatives, ensuring that plans and supplies are in place and accessible. To ensure that your emergency plan accommodates any unique needs you may have, consider what special equipment, goods, or services you might need in the event of a disaster. This includes items that would allow you to evacuate (if necessary), survive for 3 or more days on your own, shelter-in-place, and more.

Develop Your Plan

Consider the following recommendations to ensure your plan best meets your needs:
  • Create an emergency support network: You don't want to go through an emergency alone. Ask at least two people to be in your network - family members, friends, neighbors, caregivers, coworkers, or members of community groups. Remember, you will help each other in emergencies. Your emergency support network should:
  • Stay in contact during an emergency.
  • Check on you immediately after an emergency.
  • Keep spare sets of your keys.
  • Know where your Emergency Supply Kit is kept.
  • Have copies of important documents, such as information about medication and dosage, equipment, and other needs.
  • Learn about your personal needs and how to help you in an emergency.
  • If you receive home-based care (e.g., home care attendant, home health aide, visiting nurse service), include caregivers in developing your plan and familiarize yourself with your home care agency's emergency plan.
  • If you have a pet or service animal, also plan for his or her needs (i.e., temporary relocation, transportation, etc.).
  • If you rely on home-delivered meals, always stock nonperishable food at home in case meal deliveries are suspended during an emergency.
  • Have a plan with your doctor to get emergency prescription refills.
  • If you receive dialysis or other medical treatments, find out your provider's emergency plan, including where your back-up site is located.
  • If you rely on medical equipment that requires electric power:
  • Contact your medical supply company for information regarding a back-up power source, such as a battery.
  • Follow the manufacturer's directions when installing and using the equipment.
  • Check with local fire and building officials for regulations governing generator and fuel use.
  • Ask your utility company if the medical equipment qualifies you to be listed as a life-sustaining equipment customer or if you are eligible to register for a priority power restoration program.
    • Dominion Virginia Power 866-366-4357
    • Virginia Natural Gas 866-229-3578
    • Natural Gas Leaks, Odors or Emergencies 877-572-3342
    • Newport News Waterworks 757-926-1000 or TTP 757-926-1100
    • During holidays and weekends emergencies only, 757-234-4800 or TTP 757-234-4933
  • If you rely on oxygen, talk to your vendor about emergency replacements.
  • Take time to plan on how you will talk to friends or emergency workers in an emergency. During an emergency, your normal way of communicating may be affected by changes in environment, noise or confusion. Know how and what you will need to communicate during an emergency.

Assemble a Go-Bag

Assemble a Go Bag, a collection of items you may need if you have to leave in a hurry. Consider additional items such as:
  • Aerosol tire repair kits and/or tire inflator to repair flat wheelchair or scooter tires
  • Back-up medical equipment (e.g., glasses and batteries)
  • Emergency health information card
  • Instructions and extra batteries for any devices you use
  • Instructions for any device you may use
  • Items to comfort you in a stressful situation
  • Notepad and pen
  • Supplies for your service animal (food, extra water, bowl, leash, plastic bags)

Emergency Supply Kit

Everyone needs emergency supplies. Keep enough supplies in your home to survive on your own for at least three days. You may also consider additional supplies and equipment when compiling your kit, based on your special needs:
  • Back-up medical equipment (e.g., oxygen, medication, scooter battery, hearing aids, mobility aids, glasses, etc.)
  • Contact information for your doctors and pharmacy
  • Style and serial numbers of medical devices (such as pacemakers) and usage instructions
  • Supplies for pets and service animals (food, extra water, bowl, leash, plastic bags)
  • Whistle or bell