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Disaster plan available to help people who may need assistance


Last updated 9/8/2021 at 5:52pm

County News Center

County of San Diego Communications Office

As wildfires burn out of control to our north, we are reminded that fires are a constant danger in San Diego County as well. Residents must do their part to prepare for an almost year-round fire season, in addition to other disasters.

However, preparing to evacuate is not easy for some county residents. As a result, the County’s Office of Emergency Services and Department of Aging & Independence Services have teamed up to help older adults and those who may have access or functional needs develop a solid plan in preparing for an emergency or other disasters.

A “Personal Disaster Plan for People Who May Need Assistance” is currently available for pickup at many County libraries and can be downloaded on the website. The guide is available in English, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Japanese, Arabic, traditional and simplified Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean and Somali as well as English and Spanish audio versions. A video has also been created to accompany the new plan.

The guide was developed for older adults and people with access and functional needs who may benefit from additional help when it comes to planning for disasters. Access and functional needs refers to people who are or have physical, developmental or intellectual disabilities, chronic conditions or injuries, limited English proficiency, older adults, children, low income, homeless, dependent on transportation assistance and pregnant women. Caregivers, neighbors, friends and family can also use the guide to help develop personalized emergency plans for those they help.

“This guide is designed to help people evaluate their individual needs and personalize an emergency plan,” said Jeff Toney, San Diego OES director. “Each family member might have unique needs during a disaster and this plan can help both you and your loved ones be better prepared.”

Toney said the guide provides detailed steps for preparing for any emergency, including getting connected, planning, gathering supplies and staying informed.

“The guide also goes into the specific planning needed for different types of emergencies including wildfire, earthquakes, flooding and acts of terrorism,” Toney said. “This process is often difficult for those with access and functional needs, and the guide can be used by both individuals with special needs and their caregivers to develop a plan for all of these possible emergencies.”

Kim Gallo, director of Aging and Adult Services for AIS, said making a disaster plan is important because people with access and functional needs are disproportionately affected during disasters.

“A heat wave may have a greater impact on an older adult in comparison to a younger adult; and an individual with mobility limitations may need extra time, assistance, and specialized transportation to evacuate during a fire or flood,” Gallo said. “To improve safety and well-being during a disaster, it is crucial to have a plan in place and establish a support network to provide appropriate assistance.”

Gallo said caregivers can play an essential role in assisting the person in their care with emergency preparedness. They can act on the key steps outlined in the Personal Disaster Plan such as helping to identify emergency contacts, testing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, securing a back-up power source for life-sustaining medical equipment, and/or completing a Vial of Life document to provide emergency responders with life-saving medical information.

Visit to learn more about making a personal disaster plan and additional services available.


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