Institute Events and Trainings
Institute on Disabilities at Temple University

Emergency Preparedness

GRAPHIC: check markCreate and maintain an Emergency kit.

GRAPHIC: check markCreate a plan for you and your family/support.

GRAPHIC: check markGet, and stay, informed.

What is Emergency Preparedness?

The term "Emergency management planning and preparedness" can cover a wide variety of topics like emergency, risk, disaster, and hazard management as well as civil defense and protection. An "emergency" is defined as an exceptional event that exceeds the capacity of normal resources and organization to cope. All emergencies are by definition dangerous, which means that the potential loss of life is involved. Four levels of emergency can be identified as follows: (Alexander 2002)

  1. Routine Dispatch Problem—the most minor of emergencies, involving first responders;
  2. Incident—any emergency a jurisdiction can handle without needing to call in outside help;
  3. Disaster—also called a catastrophe, an incident involving substantial destruction and mass casualty;
  4. National (or International) Disaster—a disaster of substantial magnitude and seriousness.

Being prepared for an emergency is crucial for you and your family, in your home, in your place of business or your school and throughout your community.

Experts, including the American Red Cross, say that being prepared for an emergency takes planning, foresight, cooperation, and diligence. They say, "Get a Kit. Make a Plan. Be Informed."

For people with disabilities, proper planning could be lifesaving. It is essential for people with disabilities, their families and support system prepare carefully based on their unique needs.

For specific information on how to prepare, go to the Resources.

(Free Adobe Reader can be used to read PDFs downloaded from this page - get Adobe reader for PDF get Adobe Reader for PDF)

My Emergency Readiness Plan-PA

My Emergency Readiness Plan-PA is an interactive form designed to help people with disabilities create personal plans to prepare themselves, their families and their supports for emergencies.

 Download My Emergency Readiness Plan-PA (PDF - 1.65 MB)

Emergency Preparedness—The mission of the Institute on Disabilities

GRAPHIC: video camera WEBINAR: Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities, recorded in 2016.

Emergencies can happen at a moment's notice and during a disaster or an emergency situation, people with disabilities may need additional assistance to obtain the services they need. Planning ahead is required to protect yourself and your family when emergencies occur. This webinar addresses common terminology used during an emergency situation, how to prepare for emergencies, including how to build a personal emergency go-kit, and resources for alert services frequently used to notify of emergency situations. This webinar was presented by Jamie Arasz Prioli and supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council.

webinar on emergency preparedness for people with functional and access needs WEBINAR: Are You Ready? Emergency Preparedness for Individuals with Disabilities, recorded September 2014.

Watch a recorded webinar on strategies in preparing individuals who have a variety of needs (including access and functional) for disasters and emergencies. The webinar also discusses the role of assistive technology (AT) reuse and special considerations for AT users. Presented by Jamie Arasz Prioli, RESNA ATP, Assistive Technology Specialist Reused and Exchanged Equipment Partnership Coordinator (REEP), Institute on Disabilities. This webinar is part of a project funded by the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center. The Mid-Atlantic ADA Center is one of ten regional centers funded by the National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation and Research (NIDRR), the US Department of Education (Grant #H133A110017), to provide information, guidance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

webinar for first responders: communication with people with disabilities WEBINAR: Encountering People with Disabilities in Emergency Situations, recorded August 2013. For first responders.

Watch a recorded webinar for first responders on how to communicate with people with disabilities presented by Jamie Arasz Prioli, RESNA ATP, Assistive Technology Specialist Reused and Exchanged Equipment Partnership Coordinator (REEP), Institute on Disabilities.

The mission of the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University with regard to Emergency Preparedness:

To develop and execute research, create programs, disseminate information, and deliver services and training to, with and for people with disabilities about emergency preparedness in the home, work, and community.

The Institute's Emergency Preparedness program will reach out to and, collaborate with, local communities, the city of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well as national organizations to provide information and services to make an impact on the safety and well-being of individuals with disabilities, families and support system.

 Emergency Preparedness Brochure - Download this useful and easy-to-read brochure about Emergency Preparedness for Pennsylvanians:
Download Emergency Preparedness Brochure (printable PDF)

Emergency Preparedness Brochure (accessible text version)

NOTE: If you are a group, agency or any entity that would like to customize the Emergency Preparedness brochure for your area/state, contact us and we will send you the file in the format that you need.
 Download Sample Customizable Emergency Preparedness Brochure (PDF)

Whole Community Emergency Management Planning in Pennsylvania

Consideration of the needs of people with disabilities (and their families) in the context of disaster/emergency planning is a relatively recent development in emergency management. Planning for citizens "with functional needs" who may require special accommodations now routinely includes service providers and agencies with responsibility for people with disabilities. However, individuals with disabilities and their families themselves are far less frequently to be included. This initiative considers people with disabilities as part of the solution in emergency management - not just "part of the problem."

This report, "Whole Community Emergency Management Planning in PA" describes the findings of key informant surveys and a consumer survey, with resulting recommendations for defining and improving inclusive emergency planning in Pennsylvania.

 Download "Whole Community Emergency Management Planning in PA" (Word document)

This research is part of work conducted under a grant, Including People with Disabilities in Emergency Management, funded by the PA Developmental Disabilities Council

Communication Aids in Case of Emergency

The Institute on Disabilities has created and is now offering to the public communication aids to be used by people with communication disabilities and by people who do not speak English during an emergency. Designed for people with disabilities as well as emergency shelter workers and first responders, these aids can be downloaded FREE.

More information about the Emergency Communication 4 ALL Aids.

Effective Communications for People with Disabilities: Before, During, and After Emergencies

A report by the National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency, examines the accessibility of communication before, during, and after emergencies for people with sensory disabilities (deaf, hard of hearing, blind, low-vision, deaf-blind, and speech disabilities) as well as people with intellectual, developmental, and/or psychiatric disabilities. In the report, NCD documented successful practices and barriers to effective emergency communications. The study was conducted "to help emergency planners and state and local officials provide effective communication to people with disabilities before, during, and after emergencies." Access the report (published May, 2014):

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