Family Network on Disabilities

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Disaster Planning for Children & Youth with Special Health Care Needs

Disaster Planning for Children & Youth with Special Health Care Needs

Care for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) is more complex during emergencies because of their various health conditions and extra care requirements.  Families can have trouble moving because of urgent constant medical needs. Knowing what to do ahead of time can help keep your family calm and safe.

Planning is extremely important and that is why you need to have an emergency care plan in place already in case of a disaster.

An emergency care plan includes:

  • Your child’s list of medications,

  • food allergy list,

  • frequency of therapies, such as physical,

  • actions to take in case emergency situation, and

  • emergency contact numbers

You can go to, to download an electronic copy of an emergency care plan to keep with you at all times.  To be sure all your child’s needs are met in the emergency plan, your child and health care provider can help. Have an extra bag already packed with items your child may need in case of an emergency. 

Plan in advance and be sure to understand the services offered by shelters in order to fulfill the needs of your child before you are being evacuated. If your child needs electricity for his or her equipment, you must notify your local EMS ahead of time. Do your research and make sure to include in your health record who, where, and when your child’s services will be met when you are evacuating.