Creating a Personalized Wildfire Evacuation Plan for Brain Injury Survivors and Their Caretakers

Posted on July 7, 2023

Wildfires present a significant risk in many regions across the United States. For individuals living with the aftermath of a brain injury and their caretakers, preparing for such a disaster is a must. This guide aims to assist in creating a personalized wildfire evacuation plan that caters to the unique challenges brain injury survivors face, ensuring safety and efficiency during a crisis.

Understanding the Need for a Personalized Plan

Wildfires are unpredictable and can escalate rapidly, leaving little time for safe evacuation. Those with brain injuries may face additional challenges, such as cognitive impairments, sensory sensitivities, and physical limitations, which can complicate evacuation efforts. A tailored evacuation plan helps address these issues directly, ensuring all household members can act quickly and calmly.

Step 1: Assess Your Specific Needs

The foundation of an effective evacuation plan is a thorough assessment of the brain injury survivor’s specific needs. Consider the following:

  • Medications: Compile a list of necessary medicines, noting the dosage and frequency.
  • Mobility: Identify any mobility aids (walkers, wheelchairs, canes) and ensure they are in a readily accessible location. The American Red Cross offers guidance on preparing for emergencies for those with mobility concerns.
  • Communication: Determine the most effective communication methods. For individuals who may become easily overwhelmed, consider using Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS) or similar tools to aid understanding.

Step 2: Create an Emergency Supply Kit

Your kit should be comprehensive, including:

  • Medications and Medical Supplies: Ensure at least a two-week supply of all medications. Use’s checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything vital.
  • Important Documents: Store copies of important documents (medical records, birth certificates, insurance information) in a waterproof container. Digital copies can also be stored in a secure cloud service.
  • Basic Needs and Specialized Items: Pack non-perishable food, water, clothing, and blankets, along with any necessary specialized items like spare glasses or batteries for medical devices. FEMA’s Supply List provides a detailed breakdown of essentials.

Step 3: Establish a Clear Evacuation Route and Meeting Points

Identify the safest routes out of your home and community, considering the special needs of the brain injury survivor. Use resources like Google Maps to plan your routes and select accessible meeting points. Regularly review these plans in case of changes in the environment or the survivor’s condition.

Step 4: Practice Your Evacuation Plan

Practice makes perfect. Regular drills can help identify potential issues in your plan, such as obstacles in evacuation routes or misunderstandings in communication. Tailor these practices to the survivor’s capabilities, ensuring they are comfortable and familiar with the plan.

Step 5: Stay Informed

Keeping abreast of local wildfire risks and warnings is crucial. Sign up for alerts through systems like FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) and ensure you have a battery-operated or hand-crank radio to receive updates in case of power outages.

Communication Strategies

Communication during an evacuation must be clear and calm. Utilize straightforward language and verify understanding. For individuals with cognitive difficulties, repetition and reassurance are key. Implementing visual aids and written instructions can be especially helpful.

Helpful Links and Resources


Crafting a personalized wildfire evacuation plan for brain injury survivors involves careful consideration of their unique needs. Through detailed planning, regular practice, and effective communication, you can significantly enhance the safety and well-being of brain injury survivors during wildfire emergencies. Empowerment through preparation allows survivors and their caretakers to face these challenges with confidence and resilience.