Be prepared!

Health Department warns persons with medical needs to prepare for a hurricane


The Florida Department of Health is warning persons with special medical needs not to wait until a hurricane is barreling down on South Florida before making preparations.

“Avoid delays and stress during severe weather by registering in advance for a special needs shelter. Those who are pre-registered will have transportation, paperwork and details arranged so they can be brought to a shelter quickly,” the Department stated in a release.

The Florida Department of Health in Broward and Broward County Emergency Management are responsible for ensuring that clients with special medical needs are triaged and placed in special needs shelters during severe weather, says Dr. Paula Thaqi, Director of DOH-Broward.. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.

The shelters are recommended for those who have needs such as being dependent on electricity or need oxygen. To be eligible, an adult or child must meet one or more of these criteria:

  • Depends on a health care professional to perform daily assessment and administer care.
  • Requires minimal assistance.
  • Depends on oxygen therapy.
  • Is medically dependent on uninterrupted electricity.
  • Has mental or cognitive limitations requiring assistance and is accompanied by a full-time caregiver.
  • Needs care that exceeds aid provided at general shelters.
  • Has impairments or disabilities that are medically stable.
  • Is a hospice client and is accompanied by caregiver or hospice nurse.
  • Weighs less than the safety weight restrictions of provided cots (after supply of hospital beds and bariatric cots are exhausted).

Broward County estimates that several thousand people are eligible for special needs shelters but fewer than 400 are registered. The number has been declining, likely due to complacency, lack of information or plans to stay with others. Those who need a higher level of care can be scheduled to shelter in a hospital.

The adult application is available at: It is available in English, Spanish and Creole.

The pediatric application is available in English, Spanish, Creole and Portuguese at:

The application should be completed and mailed to:


Special Needs Registry

Broward County Emergency Management Division

201 NW 84th Ave., Plantation, FL 33324


Special Needs Registry

Florida Department of Health in Broward County

780 SW 24th St., Fort Lauderdale, FL  33315

OR fax pediatric application to 954-767-5155

Here are other hurricane preparation tips from the Department of Health:

 Write an emergency plan – List anyone with special transportation needs, an evacuation plan, an emergency meeting place, an out of town contact and a pet plan.

Emergency supplies – One gallon of water per person for 7 days. Non-perishable foods such as canned meat, fish, veggies, fruits and nuts for 3 to 7 days. Can opener, disposable plates, utensils, matches and cooking gel. Flashlights with spare batteries.

Medical needs – Get a 30 day supply of prescription medications, plus over the counter pain reliever, antacids, anti-diarrheal medicine and children’s medicine. List physician contact information, blood type and allergies for all family members.

First-aid kit – Sterile bandages, cleansing agent, safety pins, gauze pads, scissors, sewing needle, moist towelettes and tape.

Essential data in waterproof container – Store information about insurers, emergency agencies, family, friends, credit cards and bank accounts, and electronic copies of mortgage, home deed, car title, medical records, etc.

Mosquito protection – Practice “Drain and Cover” by getting rid of standing water in and around your house, using repellent with DEET or other effective substance, wearing long pants and sleeves when outdoors, and repairing broken screens on windows and doors.




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