Disabled people and people with special requirements
This page provides readiness messages for disabled people and people with special requirements.
If you or someone in your whānau/family has special requirements or is disabled, you will need to include their needs in your plan for emergencies. People with mobility, hearing and visual impairments, and intellectual disabilities will need additional support, and it’s important to take time to plan and prepare.
- A comprehensive guide on emergency preparedness for people with disabilities is available on the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management Group website (link to pdf)
The most important thing you can do is prepare – and the first step is thinking about how an emergency could impact your life.
- How will an emergency affect you?
- What if the roads are closed?
- What if the shops are closed?
- What if there is no power?
- What if there is no water?
- What if there is no phone or internet?
- What if you have to leave home in a hurry?
Once you know what the impact could be, the next step is preparing. In an emergency, disruptions can last for days – you’ll need to think about what you will need, who can support you and where you will go if you can’t stay at home.
Your support network will be the first people you can turn to in an emergency. They might be your neighbours, friends, caregivers and co-workers – people who are regularly in the same area as you. It’s important that your network includes more than one person.
Build a support team at each place where you spend a large part of your day (mahi/work, whare/home, kura/school) and work with them to create a needs assessment. This can help your support network learn the best ways to assist you and offer additional ideas for you to think about. You need to agree on how you will contact each other during an emergency, including if internet and phone lines are down.
Make contact with disability support groups in your area. The Ministry of Health has a comprehensive list.
At home, get to know your neighbours. Share contact details so you can get in touch if an emergency occurs. Tell them about your emergency plan and ask about their plans.
Practise your plan with your support network, including how you will Drop, Cover and Hold in an earthquake, and how you will evacuate if you are in a tsunami or flood zone.
Arrange with your network to check on you immediately if Civil Defence Emergency Management or emergency services have advised people in your area to evacuate.
In an emergency, roads and shops can be closed for days. Make sure you have supplies, including any medicine and special items you need, for a minimum of three days, or a week or more if you can.
- Note the name and dosage of any medications you need.
- If your medical supplies need to be refrigerated, talk to your medical provider and find out how long medication can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific guidance for any medications you need.
- Wear a medical alert tag or bracelet to identify your disability or health condition.
- Work out what supplies you need. Have essential supplies in a grab bag, in case you need to leave in a hurry.
- If you are travelling, let a hotel or motel manager know of your requirements in case of an emergency.
- Know where to go for assistance if you are dependent on a dialysis machine or other life-sustaining equipment or treatment, which may not operate in an emergency. If you or a member of your whare/household is dependent on critical electrical equipment (such as a ventilator) you should ensure your electricity retailer is aware and you have plans in place to deal with any power outages. Information for medically dependent electricity consumers is available at https://www.ea.govt.nz/your-power/consumer-care/
- If you have special dietary requirements, or severe food allergies, make sure you have enough food for a minimum of three days, or a week or more if you can. You should also include suitable snack food in your grab bag.
- If you have asthma or a respiratory disorder, make sure your grab bag has dust masks (rated P2 or N95) that fit you well. You may find that hazards such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes make it harder to breathe.
Make sure you have a way to find warnings, information and advice in an emergency.
- Radio and television stations will broadcast civil defence information and advice. Arrange for your personal support network to alert you to any warnings and to keep you informed. Contact your local Civil Defence Emergency Management Group or council to find out what local warning systems are in place in your community.
- Give a neighbour or someone in your support network a key to your house so they can alert you.
- Install a warning system that is appropriate to your needs, such as an alarm with flashing strobe lights to get your attention. Replace the batteries every 12 months, for example at the beginning of daylight saving.
- Put a writing pad, pencils and a torch with batteries in your grab bag so you can communicate with others.
- If you wear hearing aids, make sure you have spare batteries.
Comprehensive advice about emergency preparedness is available in New Zealand Sign Language at https://getready.govt.nz/nzsl/
Be prepared if you have to evacuate. You may have to depend on others if you have to evacuate or go to an unfamiliar Civil Defence Centre.
If you have a guide dog, make sure you have a grab bag for them with food, medications, vaccination records, identification and harnesses.
Keep extra canes at home and in the wāhi mahi/workplace, even if you use a guide dog. Animals may become confused or disoriented in an emergency.
Trained service animals will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with their owners. See more details about disability assist dogs.
If you have an assistance dog, such as a guide dog, ensure it is certified with an authorised organisation, such as Blind Low Vision NZ, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People NZ or the Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust.
Get a Disability Assist Dog identification tag and ensure your dog is wearing it at all times. This is a unique tag worn by a certified dog to provide easy identification of Disability Assist Dog status, and it will allow your dog to access Civil Defence Centres in an emergency. It will also help reunite you if you become separated.
Plan for your dog. Have a grab bag for your disability assist dog, with food, medications, vaccination records, identification, and harnesses.