While Hurricanes are often at the forefront of our minds, Florida is susceptible to a number of emergencies, including both natural and man-made disasters. The most important thing to remember is to be prepared, not scared! The resources on this page will help you prepare for many different kinds of disasters.
Hurricane Tips from the Florida Department of Elder Affairs
Every year, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs publishes its annual Disaster Preparedness Guide for older adults. This 24-page guide includes helpful information on emergency preparation, resources for older adults, and disaster recovery.
it also includes a disaster supply kit checklist for older adults, emergency phone numbers and much more!
Best of all, it’s online and completely free. View the special Disaster Preparedness issue of Elder Update In English or en Espanol.
Disaster Assistance for Special Medical Needs
The State of Florida Division of Emergency Management wants to make sure that individuals with special needs are as safe as possible during an emergency. If you or a family member has a physical, mental, or cognitive impairment or sensory disability, it is important to join the state’s Special Needs Registry. This registry helps emergency responders and communities prepare for emergencies.
Join the Florida Special Needs Registry (you will be required to include your county and complete a survey)
Special Needs Shelters
In the case of an emergency such as a hurricane, special needs shelters may be activated for vulnerable residents who have no other safe place to go. Special needs shelters are better able to meet the needs of special medical populations. These populations include many elders and people with disabilities, especially those who require help with activities of daily living. Special needs shelters do not provide the same level of care found in a hospital and should always be considered a shelter of last resort in an emergency.
Special needs shelter registrations are only valid for one calendar year. This means you will need to re-register each year. Registration for special needs shelters will close once our region is within the forecast cone for a hurricane or tropical storm. In other words, you should register before anyone predicts a disaster.
Each county manages their special needs shelter differently, and has their own requirements for inclusion. Check with your local emergency management department for details, using the links below.
Registering for Special Needs Shelters
Each county operates its own special needs shelter registration. The links below will direct you to the appropriate site for more information.
- Charlotte County Special Needs Program
- Collier County Special Needs Program
- DeSoto County Special Needs
- Glades County Special Needs Shelter
- Hendry County Emergency Management
- Lee County Special Needs Program
- Sarasota County Medical Needs Program
Know Your Zone
Do you know your evacuation zone if a disaster strikes? Every community in Florida has an evacuation zone system, typically based on the risk of flooding or other hazardous conditions during a hurricane or tropical event.
To find your evacuation zone, use this mapping service. Enter your address into the box on the top left of the page to find your zone.
Once you know your zone, be prepared to evacuate when your zone is called. If you live in Zones A or B– or live in a mobile home community– you will be among the first to be ordered to evacuate. Do not delay. Zone A and B evacuations are often required for any named storm. Even if you live in Zones C, D, or E, you may still be ordered to evacuate. Be prepared to evacuate if required.
Emergency Management Information
In a hurricane or other emergency situation, local offices of emergency management are responsible for assessing community needs and distributing resources and assistance. Other civic organizations (for example, city governments or fire departments) may also provide resources for disaster survivors. Even in a statewide or national emergency, your local offices of emergency management may be your best resource for information and assistance.
The following links may be helpful if you are seeking help during or after an emergency situation:
National and State Resources:
- Ready.gov (Department of Homeland Security)
- Florida Division of Emergency Management
- National Hurricane Center
- Florida 511 (Traffic)
- National Weather Service: Tampa (Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, DeSoto Counties)
- National Weather Service: Miami (Collier, Hendry, Glades Counties)