Emergency Preparedness and Response: Hurricanes

At-Risk Populations

Some groups may be physically and/or emotionally exacerbated by the effects of a hurricane more than others. These groups include but are not limited to the following:

  • Older Adults
  • Children
  • People Experiencing Homelessness
  • People with Disabilities
  • People with Chronic Health Conditions

Below are resources that provide guidance for those populations and information on how to address the unique situations of those at-risk populations to prepare and cope with a hurricane.

Older Adults

The dangers that hurricanes pose including property damage, flooding, risk of illness, and lack of access to medications are particularly dangerous to older adults. In addition to these, hurricanes can pose additional dangers to older adults including social isolation, lack of electricity to run medical equipment, and lack of access to other critical supplies and essential items. The resources below detail how older adults and their families or caretakers can prepare for a hurricane to ensure their safety.

How to Make Sure Seniors Are Prepared for Hurricane Season 
This guide describes how hurricanes threaten older adults and emergency preparedness tips for seniors. [url; 1st in Care]

Hurricane Guide for Seniors 
A guide that addresses how to care for someone with special needs during a hurricane, survival location options, how to care for pets, an important contact numbers sheet, and post-storm safety tips. [pdf; FPL]

Disaster Preparedness: For Seniors by Seniors
This guide is written for older adults by older adults and details how to gather a survival kit, communicating with loved ones, evacuation plans, and other safety tips. [pdf; Red Cross, 2009]

Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults, Including COVID-19
CDC’s website provides guidance for older adults to stay protected during natural disasters like hurricanes. [url; CDC, 2021]


In addition to the threat to children’s physical safety that hurricanes pose, they also can pose additional mental and emotional distress to children especially if they are displaced due to the storm. Hurricanes can also disrupt schooling and jeopardize children’s academic success.

Children are also more at risk and vulnerable to asthma and lead poisoning, both of which are health risks caused by hurricanes and their subsequent flooding damage. Standing floodwater can also harm children because it can be contaminated, pose additional health risks including physical, bacterial, and chemical hazards (like pesticides), and the added moisture can exacerbate allergies.

The resources below will help children and their caregivers prepare for a hurricane emotionally and keep them informed of family emergency plans to remain safe in their homes or in the event of an evacuation.

Preparing Kids for Hurricanes 
Nemours created this guide to prepare children emotionally for a hurricane. [url; Nemours]

Helping to Prepare Children for Storms and Hurricanes 
This resource includes information on how to prepare children for a hurricane through education, and how to keep them occupied during the storm itself with fun activities. [pdf; LSU Health]

Preparing Your Child for a Hurricane 
Learn more about how to prepare your child for a hurricane by informing them of emergency plans. [url; Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, 2019]

Caring for Children in a Disaster 
CDC’s website provides information on how to keep children safe during a natural disaster [url; CDC, 2021]

Be a Ready Kid! 
This page on Ready.gov’s website is made specifically for children and how to stay safe, prepare for a disaster, and how to build an emergency kit. [url; Ready.gov, 2021]

Ready Wrigley Prepares for Hurricanes 
As part of a full series on preparing for emergencies, this resource provides parents, guardians, teachers, and young children with tips, activities, and a story to help the whole family prepare for emergencies. [pdf; CDC]

[Esp] Listo Calixto se prepara parap los huracanes 
Como parte de una serie completa sobre cómo prepararse para emergencias, este recurso brinda a los padres, tutores, maestros y niños pequeños consejos, actividades y una historia para ayudar a toda la familia a prepararse para emergencias. [pdf; CDC]

People Experiencing Homelessness

Housing and adequate shelter are critical to keep us safe before, during, and after hurricanes. If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness, hurricanes can be especially devastating and life threatening. The resources below include information on finding the nearest open shelter and preparedness planning. They also are of use to governmental agencies, services providers, and disaster professionals when considering the lives and safety of people experiencing homelessness.

Find an Open Shelter 
Review this resource and map from the American Red Cross that shows what available shelters there are in proximity to you. [url; American Red Cross]

Disaster Planning, Response, and Recovery for Organizations Serving People Experiencing Homelessness 
This CDC’s web page provides tools, guides, and resource directories to help organizations develop a more inclusive disaster preparedness plan. [url; CDC, 2018]

Disaster Response for Homeless Individuals and Families: A Trauma-Informed Approach 
This website includes information on how to execute disaster planning while taking into account people experiencing homelessness. [url; DHHS]

Disaster Preparedness to Promote Community Resilience: Information and Tools for Homeless Service Providers and Disaster Professionals 
HUD’s toolkit provides information and tools for governmental agencies and civil society when preparing people experiencing homelessness for a hurricane and its aftermath. [pdf; VA/DHHS/HUD, 2017]

Helping the Homeless Population During Natural Disasters 
This infographic, published by Eastern Kentucky University, shows how people experiencing homelessness are affected by natural disasters and suggests ways to help. [url; EKU, ca. 2017]

Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Resources 
This website compiles a list of resources on how to aid people experiencing homelessness and homeless services during disasters, including COVID-19. [url; U.S. Interagency Coalition on Homelessness, 2020]

Integrating Homeless Service Providers and Clients in Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery 
Intended for homeless service providers, this brief from the National Health Care for the Homeless Council suggests how best to  accommodate people experiencing homelessness during natural disasters, such as hurricanes. The brief contains community and policy recommendations. [pdf; VA/NHCHC, 2014]

People with Disabilities

In addition to the key considerations to effectively prepare for a hurricane that apply to all of us, people with disabilities may need to consider additional factors to remain safe in their homes or in the event of an evacuation. A hurricane can a exacerbate the situation of an person with a disability, may cause them to require additional assistance, and may cause a need for additional time to prepare. Some additional considerations include creating and maintaining a support network, planning ahead for accessible transportation to evacuate or get to a medical clinic, and determining how to use medical equipment in the event of a power outage. While people with disabilities are not a uniform group with all of the same needs, these resources provide information that is helpful to all groups. Some resources also have information that is specific to certain disabilities including information for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, people who are blind or have low vision, people with a mobility disability, and others.

Individuals with Disabilities 
This web page from Ready.gov includes information on how to get informed, how to make a plan, and how to build a kit in preparation for a disaster. It has tips for medications and for people with a mobility disability, for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, for people who are blind or have low vision, for individuals with Alzheimer’s and related dementia, for people with speech disability, for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, and additional tips. [url; Ready.gov, 2021]

Hurricane Preparedness for Persons with Disabilities and Access and Functional Needs 
FEMA provides a list of additional preparedness planning considerations for individuals with disabilities and their families. [url; FEMA, 2021]

Hurricanes: People with Disabilities – Disaster Safety 
This website includes some practical tips for individuals with disabilities to prepare for a hurricane. [url; FLASH]

Disability and Health Emergency Preparedness 
While not specific to hurricanes, this CDC web page contains links to tools and resources from state disability and health programs as well as a list of resources from federal agencies relevant to disability inclusive emergency preparedness and response plans. [url; CDC, 2020]

Applying for FEMA Disaster Assistance: A Brief Guide for Persons with Disabilities 
This website from Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) program provides guidance to help individuals with disabilities register for disaster recovery assistance, including what personal information will be requested and how to respond to important disability-related questions. [url; ILRU]

People with Chronic Health Conditions

Hurricanes and the flooding they cause can pose more severe health risks to people with chronic health conditions. Contaminated, standing floodwater in the home can expose individuals to chemicals and infectious diseases and can trigger asthma. People with chronic health conditions can also be dependent on medication or medical devices that can be disrupted by power outages and lack of transportation due to the damage caused by a hurricane. There is also an increased risk of the spread of exposure to and spread of disease when communities are evacuated from their homes into shelters or evacuation centers. For these reasons, hurricanes can be particularly dangerous to people with chronic health conditions, whether you are sheltering at home or evacuated. The resources below provide information on specific considerations for individuals with chronic health conditions.

Disaster Information for People with Chronic Conditions and Disabilities 
CDC’s main page for people with chronic conditions and disabilities links to various resources and subpages related to various different health conditions including asthma, diabetes, and HIV. [url; CDC, 2020]

Emergency Preparedness for People with Chronic Diseases 
This infographic offers simple tips for people with chronic health conditions to prepare for a natural disaster. [pdf; CDC]

Caring for Your Medical Needs in a Disaster 
This page on the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response’s website includes information for those preparing to manage chronic conditions, including organizing medical documents and supplies, and also discusses safe medication use after exposure to floodwater, insulin storage, and considerations for dialysis and kidney transplant patients. [url; PHE, 2016]

Asthma Care Before, During, and After a Hurricane or Other Tropical Storm 
This CDC’s web page is curated specifically for people with asthma on how to stay safe during the different stages of a hurricane. [url; CDC, 2017]

Dialysis Care After a Disaster 
This CDC web page provides information on dialysis care after a disaster including what to do in an emergency, safe use of water, and infection control. [url; CDC, 2015]


Latest page update: October 13, 2022.