Emergency Preparedness

December 15, 2013

Lightning bolts at night

Emergency preparedness is not only a concern for those living in areas with a high risk of natural disasters. Families living in any community need to prepare for the unexpected. Educating yourself on what to do before, during and after an emergency can help to ensure the safety of your family, neighbors and loved ones. Families affected by autism have unique needs on a daily basis, and this is no different in times of emergency.

Supporting Individuals with ASDs during Evacuation and Emergency Response Efforts.

  1. Expect the unexpected,
  2. Be prepared, and
  3. Realistically assess your own ability and the ability of others to respond to emergency situations.

Important items to take with you:

  • Prepare a list of Everyone’s emergency contact information (include your pharmacy, MD, Neighbors, Family, Municipality)
  • Don’t forget prescriptions
  • Labeled clothing (name and family contact #)
  • Photos (Individuals, Family)
  • Charged cell phone
  • Food

Prepare a community bag:

A community bag can accompany your family member or learner into the community everyday. It is particularly useful during transition times and when expected delays and changes of schedules occur.   Be sure the bag and its contents are age appropriate.  Include index cards, puzzles/games, snacks, sticky notes (to use as tokens, make schedules and communication boards) pens, powerful reinforcers, and behavior support plans.

Review your IEP:

Be sure to review your child’s or learner’s Individualized Educational Plan and include critical functional life skills. Skills like: Waits Appropriately; Asks for Assistance; Makes Requests and Makes Choices; and Denies Inappropriate Requests from Others could be helpful.  The abilities to follow a schedule and be understood by novel listeners are especially important.


Autism New Jersey
Call for referrals to resources, including autism training for emergency service personnel

American Red Cross
Ask about the availability and location of shelters for individuals with autism

Autism Speaks

National Weather Service – Hurricane Safety

Educate Emergency Service Personnel about autism
Call 800.4.AUTISM  for training resources

NJ Register Ready
Are you prepared? “Register Ready – New Jersey’s Special Needs Registry for Disasters” enables New Jersey residents with special needs and their families, friends and associates to provide information to emergency response agencies, so that emergency responders can better plan to serve them in a disaster or other emergency. Visit https://www13.state.nj.us/SpecialNeeds for additional information. For assistance, dial 211 (toll-free) and an operator will assist you in registering.