Emergency and Disaster Planning

It is important to have a well thought out plan ready for your child with special needs in the event you are faced with a sudden emergency or disaster. An emergency plan should address your child's specific needs, including medication, personal care, adaptive equipment, transportation and communication challenges. Emergency planning includes being prepared for both your child's medical emergencies as well as possible environmental disasters. Everyone in your home should know what to do in an emergency. How would you handle:

  • Sudden trips to the emergency room and interactions with healthcare providers who may be unfamiliar with your child and your child's medical history
  • Lack of housing, water, electricity, telephone, refrigeration
  • No local access to prescription refills or other needed health products
  • Confinement to home or evacuation to a shelter
  • Limited health care and emergency rescue services
  • Lack of transportation

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center provides information and resources to help families and health care professionals prepare for emergencies and disasters.

Contact Us

If your questions are not fully answered by our Special Needs Resource Directory and its links, please contact us via email.

Environmental emergencies such as fires, storms, floods or other natural disasters present additional challenges. Suddenly, the basic services you depend upon for power, food, water, heat, cooling, transportation, communication and/or medical supplies may not be available. Everyone in your home should know what to do in an emergency, whether it's a power outage, fire or natural disaster, such as a flood or tornado. Prepare simple, one-page emergency instructions and update as things change. Include information about exits, fire extinguishers and power shut-offs. Place instructions where they can be easily seen and have everyone practice.

Make sure that your child's medicine and important equipment are easy to grab if you have to leave suddenly. In addition to your general first aid kit, you should have the special supplies you might need, stored safely in a waterproof bag or container:

  • Copy of your Parent Notebook which should include your child's personal information, medical information and care plan and EMS Medical Emergency Form / Letter
  • Three week supply of medications, medical supplies and special dietary foods
  • Ask your doctor and pharmacist how to properly store medication that would normally require refrigeration
  • Backup power supply such as a generator for medical equipment, battery pack and car adaptor
  • Hand crank radio / flashlight that includes a cell phone charger
  • Extra eyeglasses, wheelchair and hearing aid batteries, if needed

Several options are available for child identification including wristbands, shoe tags and temporary tattoos:

  • Kids Travel Card has child safety ID cards.
  • Kids Vital ID's has identification and medical alert wristbands and bracelets.
  • Safety Tat is a temporary tattoo that is applied with water and lasts from 1 to 5 days.

 Weather related disasters have brought attention to challenges and deficiencies in the ability of local communities to support its residents before, during and after events, especially for those with disabilities. Many communities have the resources but don’t anticipate the difficulties people have finding and accessing those resources. Large scale loss of power coupled with closed businesses can provide overwhelming challenges. While many children and adults may be medically stable they may not be able to plug in their equipment or charge their batteries and backup generators cannot be refueled as few gas stations remain open. Transporting patients requires gas and the ability to maneuver around fallen trees and debris. Running out of medications or supplies can be devastating as homecare companies, pharmacies, groceries and most hardware stores may be closed. Phones may not be working in many areas so families and their caregivers may have difficulty communicating. A committee of healthcare professionals, families, and community representatives should work together to identify anticipated needs and develop a comprehensive disaster response structure.

Communities need to be prepared:

  • Certain basic services need to be prioritized and restored, including pharmacies, homecare companies, grocery and hardware stores, at least one of each for a given neighborhood.
  • At least one gas station in each neighborhood with backup power would significantly reduce long lines. It may even be necessary to deliver gasoline, natural gas or propane to support the healthcare needs of some families.
  • Generators should be available for households with patients dependent on healthcare equipment as well as for vital businesses.
  • Patients who are dependent on equipment and are without power or their home is badly damaged may also need a local community building to go to and transportation to get there where they can access electricity.
  • Medical supplies and medications need to be conveniently available. Having a full service pharmacy with backup power in each neighborhood would be a good start and having the homecare companies work out a sharing system where they each take a neighborhood would also be a more efficient remedy.
  • Backup caregivers including aides, nurses and respiratory therapists would need to be available to support families.
  • Communication options need to be looked into as land lines and cell phones may not work.

Contact Us

We want to hear from you. Email us with your feedback or suggestions for additional resources. Call our Family Resource Center at 513-636-7606 with your questions.