HCDE News Blog

Center for Safe and Secure Schools offers guidance to keep children with special needs safe in emergencies

Are children safe? This question is carefully considered for all children, but it requires a deeper analysis for parents and educators of students with special needs.

Additional preparation may be needed while planning for an emergency or disaster situation for children and youth with disabilities. For instance, children with disabilities may have a hard time moving from one location to another, have difficulty communicating, or have trouble adjusting to different situations. Emergency plans must cover the physical and emotional challenges required to make special needs children feel safe.

Academic and Behavioral School West teacher walks beside student in a wheelchair.

The key in an emergency for any family, especially those with special needs children, is to plan and prepare ahead of time. It is important to talk to them about what can happen and what is happening during emergencies.   

Prepare a kit:

Keeping a routine in an emergency can help a child stay calm. Putting together a good kit is the first step. Be sure to include your children in the process. Let them pick things that make them feel secure, such as a favorite book or food—even if it is not healthy.

Basic Items:

Make a plan:

Knowing what to do in an emergency is just as important as having a kit. While it is important for you to be ready, several steps can help keep the entire family safe.

Involve others:

Involving others helps protect the student and family.

Include the school:

For questions regarding best practices to keep your student safe in an emergency, contact the Center for Safe and Secure Schools’ Safety and Security Specialist, Janice Owolabi, at jowolabi@hcde-texas.org.

Reference Sites:

Emergency Preparedness Response


Emergency Kit Checklist

Ready Wrigley Checklists

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