Paralysis, Disability, and Disaster Readiness

Hi! I’m Ruf ‘n’ Ready, the Disaster Readiness Service Dog!

Disaster Readiness may feel like a huge challenge for people in the paralysis community, with all the other challenges in our lives. I’m here to help you get ready!

Disaster or emergency events like floods, fires, tornados, earthquakes and other natural and human-caused events are especially hard on people with paralysis, along with other disabilities. Among other things, people with paralysis should:

  • Connect with neighbors, friends, family and caregivers to check in and help you out if a disaster hits. Support networks are vital before, during and after disasters!
  • Gather emergency supplies to shelter in-place or take with you, if you need to evacuate. These include basic emergency supplies like water, non-perishable food, and flashlights – as well as paralysis-related resources like wheelchair chargers, medical goods and bathroom care supplies. Pack today!
  • Develop an evacuation plan. Do you live on upper levels of an apartment building? Then have a backup wheelchair in your garage and a plan to get down the stairs! Figure out transportation ahead-of-time, whether it’s an emergency driver or understanding your city’s resources. Transportation plans can keep you safe!
  • Identify shelter and related needs after a disaster. You may need to leave your home for days, weeks or more. Having accessible, inclusive place to stay is a must!
  • Sign up for local emergency notifications. Your city, county or state may reach out over radio and TV or through email, phone calls and text messages. Enroll in emergency lists to know when you may need to evacuate!

Remember, planning ahead for our safety is crucial! Start now, because you never know when a disaster could come your way.

The educational materials below can help you get ready! You’ll feel better about disaster readiness when you start planning for your own (and others’) safety and well-being.

We are grateful to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation for their generous resources to create this and many other projects to ensure our health, safety, participation and inclusion in our world. For more information on their fantastic work, visit

Tri-fold hand-out

This one-pager can be downloaded and copied for everyone! It introduces the most important points for readiness, including items for your “Go Bag” and tips for awareness and planning. Keep one on hand for yourself or print some for your local friends and organizations.

Disaster readiness trifold

Large print pamphlet

This pamphlet includes all of the great recommendations in our tri-fold, with extended information and larger text for people with low vision and anyone that would like info on a full page. Download it, read it and share with your friends!

Disaster Pamphlet – large print

Disaster readiness video

This 10 minute video, hosted by me, Ruff ‘n’ Ready, is a great way to learn about disaster readiness. Post this on your website! Share it with friends! Spread it over social media! Consider hosting a gathering with people in your community, Independent Living Center or any group, to show the video and have a discussion — or a party! This will help you and others plan together and support each other to stop putting it off and get ready!

Disaster Readiness Policy Paper

Disability Disaster Readiness – Overview & Recommendations – WID2019

This document explores the history and the range of social and personal factors that affect our community’s experience of disasters and emergencies. Extensive policy and practice recommendations are offered to support community readiness. This paper can be distributed to policy-makers, agencies, and first-responder organizations in your community to alert them to important changes they can make to protect our safety and well-being. It can also be used by paralysis advocates to learn what to push for in their communities!


Here are recordings of two webinars we presented, one directed to people with paralysis and their families, and one directed to disability agencies, about readiness for our communities. View the videos below to learn more!

Disaster Readiness and Paralysis – a Webinar for Individuals and Allies

Disaster Safety for People with Paralysis – Webinar for Professionals and Advocates

Thank you for visiting our site and learning about paralysis and emergency preparedness. This can help you make your own plans – and create inclusive disaster readiness in your community. Please plan ahead, spread the word and protect people with paralysis everywhere!

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One thought on “Paralysis, Disability, and Disaster Readiness

  1. Pingback: Disability Inclusive Emergency Preparedness, Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Resilience Training and Technical Assistance – World Institute on Disability

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