Self Esteem
About Judy
Press Room
Speaking Services

Got A Question?

click here

© 2001-2003
Judith Loseff Lavin
Links to Resources
My Story
Problem Solvers
The Chat Club
Parent to Parent
Contact Judy

Keeping Safe During a Disaster

By Judy Loseff Lavin, M.S.W.
Author of Special Kids Need Special Parents

During these tense times, we all know that being prepared is not only helpful, but can save lives: For those with special needs and their parents staying prepared is especially important.

Aside from stocking canned goods, storing extra water and having an additional supply of medicines (work with your doctor on this) in reach, it’s a good idea to take other precautionary steps in case of a crisis. The American Red Cross Northern California Disaster Preparedness Network and the Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco (415-543-6222 or 415-543-6698. website: with the help of disability consultant June Kailes, give the following tips which can help you keep yourself and loved ones safe in a disaster.

  • Arrange for the support network to immediately check on you after the crisis and be able to give you needed help. Be sure they are individuals other than the aide who may assist you or your child on a daily basis in case that person is unreachable during a crisis. Don’t depend on one person. The Red Cross recommends identifying three people at a location to help you.

  • Give them important keys and have a copy of theirs.

  • Show them where you keep emergency supplies.

  • Share copies of emergency documents, evacuation plans and a health information card.

  • Work out a communications system and practice it.

  • Get a plan of action or escape. Discuss the plan with you or your child’s attendant, if there is one. Ask questions, such as, How will we mange for seven days and whom can we rely on during that time period?

  • Have a back-up plan. Think about what you’ll need if you need immediate help. Contemplate who you’ll contact and how to get what you need.

  • Keep an emergency health information card that tells rescuers about your allergies as well as medications you use or communication problems you may have with you. Include preferred treatment plans, contact information of your support system both in and out of town, as well as your medical providers.

  • Think about what you will and won’t be able to do in a crisis, such as find flashlights, use a tool to get into a place that you need, shut off your gas line, use a fire extinguisher. Plan for someone to help you.

  • Notify police and fire as to you or your child’s situation.

  • Pack a back-pack or fanny pack to keep with you (those with wheelchairs can hang it on the chair), with your Emergency Health Information Card, Health Insurance Card, Instructions on how to assist you, Copy of your Emergency Documents, Medications/ at least a week supply of medication and copies of prescriptions, flashlight on a key ring, a signaling device such as a whistle, beeper, bell or screecher and a small battery-operated radio with extra batteries.

  • Plan for at least 2 weeks of supplies of your disability related items. Shelters and first aid stations will not be able to meet your specific needs in a crisis.

  • Make sure you include vitamins and over-the-counter drugs in your medical self-help kit.

  • Keep at least a 14 day supply of medications.

  • Make sure your equipment and assistive devices are in a convenient, consistent and secured spot so you can find them after a problem. Include such items as hearing aids, prosthesis, teeth, mobility aids, like crutches, canes, walkers, respirators, wheelchairs, glasses, contacts, service animal harnesses and cleaning solutions.

Hopefully, you won’t need to put your plan into practice, but being prepared can help keep you safe.

For more information visit

Judith Lavin, M.S.W., author of Special Kids Need Special Parents, and a former journalist with the Chicago Sun-Times, recognized the need for an easy-to-read resource for physically and emotionally exhausted parents like herself, as well as their families, teachers, doctors and others who work with them. Lavin speaks to numerous organizations and parent groups around the nation, giving them inspiration and hope.

Lavin’s work has been featured in numerous publications such as the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, Newsday, Washington Parent and Chicago Parent. In addition, she has appeared  on radio and TV news and talk shows around the U.S., including NBC-TV's Today show, PBS-TV's Small Talk for Parents and the CBS Radio Networks. You can visit Judy at