Emergency Preparedness

Hurricane Preparedness

Special Needs

Residents with special needs, the elderly, and those without transportation require extra attention in order to stay safe during a disaster. Polk County has programs in place to help these residents prepare and find safe shelter.


A special needs shelter is an emergency facility capable of providing special medical or nursing care which does not necessitate an acute care hospital setting. Eligible persons desiring special needs sheltering should pre-register with Emergency Management. A special needs shelter is a temporary emergency facility capable of providing care to residents whose medical conditions may require the use of electrical equipment, oxygen, or dialysis, or individuals with physical, cognitive, or medical conditions who may require assistance from medical professionals. Although special needs shelters provide more care than a general shelter, they do not provide the level of care found in a medical facility.


If you need a ride to a shelter, regardless of special need status, arrangements will be made with Polk County Transit Services to pick you up and take you to your assigned shelter. If you are a special needs client, you will be asked about your transportation plans.


Polk residents are eligible at any age, who meet any of the following conditions:

  • Activities of daily living are restricted by immobility and their basic needs must be met by others.
  • Needs assistance with the administration of their medications.
  • Requires dressing changes because of moderate/copious drainage (ulcers, fistulas)
  • Needs assistance with ostomy management, and indwelling catheters (n/g tube, colostomy bags, etc.).
  • Requires daily assessment of medical conditions by professional nursing personnel. (cardiac, diabetic).
  • Cardiac or respiratory conditions requiring electrical medical equipment - oxygen 3 liters or less, apnea monitors, nebulizers, etc.
  • All others deemed necessary by a triage nurse.

Persons who require an evaluation and possible health care facility placement:

  • Persons in sudden acute medical or emergency conditions.
  • Oxygen-dependent persons requiring oxygen 4-liter flow and higher.
  • Bedridden persons and persons requiring a hospital-type bed who, for medical reasons, cannot use cots for emergency bedding, and persons requiring Hoyer lift transfers.
  • Persons require continuous air conditioning for medical reasons.
  • Persons do not possess functional ambulation capability.
  • High-risk pregnancy within four weeks of the estimated date of delivery or in active labor. Normal pregnancies should get instructions from their obstetrician.


To register for a special needs shelter and/or transportation, select one of the following options:

Disaster Supply Kit

Fire Department VehicleA disaster supply kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency:

  • Food
  • Water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Prescription Medications
  • Cash
  • Pet Food/Medication
  • Clothing
  • Flashlight
  • Copies of Important Documents
  • First Aid Kit

Home Escape Plans

Your family's home fire escape plan needs to show:

  • All the rooms in your home
  • Two ways out of each room
  • At least one smoke alarm in or near each sleeping area and on each level of your home
  • A meeting place outside the home
  • A path from each room to the meeting place

It is recommended to have a fire drill with your family at least two times a year.