Information for special needs residents

PINELLAS COUNTY — Residents of all ages with special needs, those without transportation, and the elderly require extra attention and preparation to stay protected in weather emergencies.

Though Pinellas County government has education programs in place to help these citizens prepare and find safe shelter, the responsibility for storm preparation rests with individuals and their families or caregivers. That planning needs to happen early.

DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE STORM IS RAGING. Emergency personnel may not be able to respond when high winds make road travel hazardous. Plan for safe shelter now.

Residents with Special Needs should Register:

Residents with certain medical conditions can get help during an evacuation. Special needs shelters will open for those requiring minimal medical assistance.

If you need transportation to a shelter, pre-registration is required. If you have your own transportation to a special needs shelter, pre-registration is not required, but is strongly recommended. For those requesting transportation assistance, your local fire department will contact you before an evacuation.

You may bring your caregiver and/or family with you to a special needs shelter. Please note, you are not obligated to go to a special needs shelter once registered if you have made other safe and secure arrangements.

  • To Register:
    • Complete and print a registration form :
      • English – https://bit.ly/3fqeCXy
      • Spanish – https://bit.ly/34jCTYZ

Mail the completed form to:
Pinellas County Emergency Management
Public Safety Complex
10750 Ulmerton Rd., Building 1, Suite 267
Largo, FL 33778

      • Call Pinellas County Emergency Management at (727) 464-3800 to receive a form by mail.
      • Call your nearest fire department or home health care provider.
  • Once registered, your application will be reviewed. If we need additional information, or if other options are available to you, we will contact you at the phone number you provided.
  • Service animalsthat have been individually trained to do work or perform a task for a person with a disability are allowed in any shelter; there is no registration requirement.
  • Pets are only allowed in pet-friendly shelters. If you are registered for a special needs shelter and you have no other options for your pet, call Pinellas County Animal Services at (727) 582-2600 to register your pet. Animal Services will make arrangements for your pet to be taken to a host home. Pets will not be allowed to stay in the special needs shelter.

What to Expect from a Special Needs Shelter:

The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County and School Board staff these shelters with nurses and other medical personnel. Oxygen is available, but air conditioning may not be available if power is interrupted.

Before going to a shelter, arrange to bring at least a two-week supply of any medications you need along with any needed portable equipment. If you have special diet requirements, be sure to pack your own special nonperishable snacks. For your own comfort, bring items such as bedding, sheets, pillows and blankets. Cots are available only on a limited basis and are not guaranteed.

Special needs shelters do not have hospital beds and cannot assist those with acute medical problems.

Good Advice for all Residents with Special Needs:

Whether you go to a special needs shelter or not, here’s some good advice to keep in mind when preparing for hurricane season:

    • Start a personal support network of people you can count on during an emergency.
    • Create an emergency health information card that is customized to you.
    • Complete an emergency contact list with names and phone numbers of family members, friends, doctors, insurance information and hospital preferences.
    • Conduct an ability self-assessment. Know what you can and cannot do. Talk with your health care provider about a realistic plan.
    • Maintain a current list of medications and at least a two-week supply.
    • Keep important equipment and assistive devices in a consistent, convenient and secured place.
  • On Track with Transportation:
    • PSTA buses will run nearly all their routes until itls no longer safe to travel. During an evacuation, buses will also run from transfer stations to local shelters. All rides are free during an evacuation. Be prepared in advance by locating your nearest bus stop.
    • Call the PSTA InfoLine (727) 540-1900/ TDD (7276) V540-0603. For current route information during a storm, go to psta.net/weatheralert.php.

Special Needs Supply List:

Some additional items to be considered:

   Wheelchairs:

  • A patch kit and extra inner tubes
  • Gloves in case of broken glass or debris
  • An extra battery and/or a converter for charging

   Visual impairments:

  • Talking or Braille clock
  • An extra white cane, magnifier and glasses
  • Mark your disaster supplies with fluorescent tape

   Hearing or speech impairments:

  • Extra batteries for hearing aids
  • Pencil and paper for communicating emergency information
  • Power converter for your laptop
  • Preprinted key phrases you would use in an emergency

   Personal supplies:

  • Two-week supply of dressing materials, nasal cannulas or suction catheters
  • Two-week supply of prescriptions
  • Cooler for refrigerated medications
  • Special dietary food

For more special needs information, visit Ready.gov .

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