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Preparing for an emergency with medical needs

Updated December 3, 2015

Having a plan in place can assist you greatly in the event of an emergency. The information below is emergency preparedness information tailored to those with special medical needs, but you should always consult with your doctor when developing your plan. The following information is designed to get you thinking about the steps you need to take to prepare for an emergency. Download a copy of the Persons with Disabilties Guide or call 311 to have a copy sent to you.

Build a support network

Despite your best planning, you might require help from others. Keep an updated list of family and friends who may be able to assist you if required. Know those in your area who could walk to your home and/or workplace in an emergency.

Include written operating instructions for any medical equipment that you use, such as oxygen and breathing equipment, in your 72-hour kit. Be ready to give quick instructions on how others can help you. Think about what you will need and how you want it done.

Life support and essential medical devices

  • Here are some tips to help you start planning for any electricity or battery dependent medical devices you use (such as breathing machines, oxygen, suction, or home dialysis equipment):
  • Contact your local electric company about your power needs for life-support devices in advance. They might be able to make your power reconnection a priority. Even so, your power could be out for many days following a disaster. It is essential that you have power backup options for your equipment.
  • For medical devices requiring power, talk to your medical supply company about back-up power sources, such as batteries or a generator.
  • If you are using oxygen, do not use gas lights or candles. Instead, opt for battery-powered flashlights or lanterns. You may also want to consider posting “Oxygen in Use” signs to let others know. Read these tips on oxygen safety for more information.

Medication and treatments

  • If you are dependent on medication or medical treatments, have a plan to lessen the impact of a disruption:
  • Have at least a 3-day supply of medication and medical supplies readily available.
  • Make a list of your medications (name, dose, frequency, and the name of the prescribing doctor) and store it in your 72-hour kit.
  • Rotate medications in your 72-hour kit. Take older ones out of your kit and use them before the expiration date. Replenish your kit with a fresh supply of medication. Be sure to ask your pharmacist how best to store your medications.
  • If you receive medical treatments from a clinic or a hospital, ask your health care provider what you should do in the event of an emergency.

Build an emergency kit

  • In addition to storing food, water, a First Aid kit, important documents and other basic items, you should start thinking about any additions items you might need in your kit.
  • A list of your medications (name, dose, frequency, and the name of the prescribing doctor).
  • Include written information about how to administer your medications, what equipment you use, any allergies you have, and your emergency medical contacts.
  • If applicable, include food and water for your service animal. You may want to consider including pad protectors to protect your service animal against broken glass and other hazards.

When building your kit, think about these questions - What do you use on a daily basis? What would you need if you had to leave your home for a long period of time?

You may want to consider having additional emergency kits, depending on your needs. For example, you could have a small kit with you at all times, stocked with your essential medications, and you could also store one at work.

​​Downloads

Household Emergency Action Plan

Plain Language Brochure

72-hour kit

Emergency Contact Sheet