Medical Needs: Disaster Tips

In a disaster, people with special medical needs have extra concerns. This information will help you and your family prepare for a disaster.


  • Always have at least a two-week supply of all your medications. In some emergencies, such as an influenza pandemic, you may need to prepare for even longer.
  • Store your medications in one location in their original containers.
  • Have a list of all of your medications: name of medication, dose, frequency, and the name of the prescribing doctor.

Medical supplies

  • Have an extra two-week supply of any medical supplies you use, such as bandages, ostomy bags or syringes.

Electrically powered medical equipment

  • For all medical equipment requiring electrical power — beds, breathing equipment or infusion pumps — check with your medical supply company and get information regarding a back-up power source such as a battery or generator.

Oxygen and breathing equipment

  • If you use oxygen, have an emergency supply (enough for at least a two-week period).
  • Oxygen tanks should be securely braced so they do not fall over. Call your medical supply company regarding bracing instructions.
  • If you use breathing equipment, have a two-week supply or more of tubing, solutions and medications.

Intravenous (IV) and feeding tube equipment

  • Know if your infusion pump has battery back-up, and how long it would last in an emergency.
  • Ask your home care provider about manual infusion techniques in case of a power outage.
  • Have written operating instructions attached to all equipment.

Emergency bag

  • In the event that you have to leave your home, keep a bag packed at all times that contains:
    • A medication list.
    • Medical supplies for at least two weeks.
    • Copies of vital medical papers such as insurance cards and power of attorney.

People who can help

  • An important part of being prepared for a disaster is planning with family, friends and neighbors. Know who can walk to your home to assist you if no other means of transportation is available.
  • Discuss your disaster plans with your home health care provider.
  • Ask your local fire department if they keep a list of people with special medical needs; ask to be included if they do maintain a list.
  • Keep a list handy of people who can help and their phone numbers.

Other languages. (All files are PDF.)

DOH Pub 821-006
Revised - March 2008
Reviewed annually

This document was produced in cooperation with the Emergency Management Division of the Washington State Military Department.