Important Shelter Information
Any emergency plan should include a list of area and regional shelters and directions on how to get there. By choosing several destinations in different directions, you will have options should the emergency situation encompass a large geographical area.
In Florida, there are two types of shelters - general population shelters and special needs shelters. It is important to note that not every person with a disability is eligible to evacuate to a special needs shelter. The best place to shelter for every Floridian is outside the evacuation area, in a safe and secure structure, with family and friends.
While evacuating to a general population shelter, Floridians should bring some of their own supplies such as bed linens or blankets, clothing, toiletries/hygiene items and personal medications. Other resources available at general population shelters may vary. To assure your needs can be accommodated, contact your local emergency management office. Click here for a list of county emergency management offices and contacts.
Click here for an index of general population shelters information from county emergency management agencies.
Special Needs Shelters
A Special Needs Shelter is for people who have special needs according to the definition in the Florida Administrative Code (Chapter 64-3):
"someone who during periods of evacuation or emergency, requires sheltering assistance, due to physical impairment, mental impairment, cognitive impairment or sensory disabilities"
The basic eligibility criteria you would need to meet to stay in a special needs shelter: 1) You are a person with special medical needs 2) Your care exceeds the basic first aid provided at general population shelters 3) Your impairments or disabilities are medically stable and do not exceed the capacity, staffing and equipment of the special needs shelter to minimize deterioration of your pre-event level of health.
Remember — just because you have a disability does NOT mean you will require a Special Needs Shelter. Some people with disabilities can be safely accommodated in a general population shelter. And, the best place to shelter for every Floridian is: 1) with friends or family; 2) in a safe structure; and 3) outside of the evacuation area.
Make contact with your local Office of Emergency Management to find out if you are a candidate and register in advance, so your county will be able to assist you to be prepared and provide additional information on their procedures. By completing the basic disaster plan, information about your local Office of Emergency Management will be provided to you automatically.
Contact your local emergency management office to find out more about special needs shelters and what is required to register.
It is important to note that a special needs shelter is a shelter of last resort - a place to go when you or the person you care for has no other sheltering option.
- What to Take to a Shelter
- What to Expect in a Shelter
- Eligibility Requirements for Special Needs Shelters
- Sheltering With Your Pet or Service Animal
- Special Needs Sheltering