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Special Needs Groups

No two households are the same. When building your family emergency plan, be mindful of the special needs and considerations of individuals in your own household. By evaluating your unique needs, you can better prepared for any situation.


An emergency situation or an evacuation can be a frightening and confusing time. It is important that seniors be educated about the potential for emergencies, the steps to take to be prepared and, the programs and services available to help get them through the emergency and return to their regular routine.

In addition to the basic emergency survival kit, it is essential that seniors being evacuated during emergencies take all equipment or devices they may need immediately with them.

Key areas to consider for seniors
  • Assistive devices such as canes, walkers, hearing aids, breathing apparatus, etc.
  • Prescription eyewear and footwear
  • Extra medications and vitamin supplements
  • Copies of prescriptions
  • Extra dentures (if required) and cleanser
  • Personal papers, identification
  • List of names and telephone numbers (such as family members, doctor, case worker, seniors’ group contact person, etc.)

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People with disabilities

There are an estimated 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities and special needs. Emergency Management Ontario and the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario have developed an Emergency Preparedness Guide for People with Disabilities/Special Needs. To best prepare for an emergency according to one’s special needs, please refer to the appropriate category in this guide for a list of suggested emergency survival kit items and contingency planning considerations. Learn more about services and information of interest to people with disabilities.

The Emergency Preparedness Guide for People with Disabilities/Special Needs


During emergencies, remember that your child looks to you for guidance and comfort. Children follow their parent’s lead. Thecalmer you are, the calmer they will be.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Talk with your children about emergencies that are common to your community and how to prepare for them.
  • Have children help you put together your family emergency plan and household’s emergency survival kit.
  • Practice family evacuation drills regularly and talk about why you are doing it. Children will not be as frightened because there will be some familiarity.
  • Learn more about what you need to include in your emergency survival kit for infants and toddlers.
  • It is important to talk to children openly and honestly about what is happening. Try to explain the nature of the problem in a way they will understand. Also explain what is being done to correct it.
Key things to consider for protecting your children during an emergency
  • Never dismiss their fears or anxieties. Let children know they can ask questions.
  • Listen to what they have to tell you. Be patient with them.
  • Allow them to express what they are feeling, for example, by drawing a picture.
  • You should try to monitor what they watch on television. News coverage of certain emergency situations can be distressing for children.


The family pet is an important and loving part of your household. Like family members, pets are also affected by emergencies. When building your family emergency plan, do not forget to include pet needs and remember to create a pet emergency survival kit, just as you would other members of your family. A little advance planning means your pet will also be cared for during an emergency.

Key things to consider for your pet
  • Find out about your municipality’s evacuation centre locations and related pet policies.
  • Make photocopies of important veterinary documents such as vaccination records, to store in your pet survival kit.
  • Contact the hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check on their policy on accepting pets during an emergency. Be sure to ask if they have restrictions on the number, size and type of pet.
  • Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would shelter your pet(s) in an emergency.
  • Include your pet in any local or family emergency drills and exercises.
  • Consider setting up a buddy system with your neighbour so they will take care of your pet if you are not home in the event of an emergency.

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