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People with Disabilities or Access & Functional Needs

Access & Functional Needs Services

Disasters and emergencies can disproportionately affect individuals with access and functional needs and people with disabilities. If you or a loved one has a disability and other access and functional needs, you may have to take additional steps to protect yourself and your family in an emergency. As the region’s 24-hour non-emergency information line during an emergency or disaster, we’re working with our public safety agency partners to ensure we can serve all San Diego County residents, including individuals with access and functional needs.

AFN Population

People with access and functional needs (AFN) refers to individuals who are or have: 

  • Physical, developmental, or intellectual disabilities 
  • Chronic conditions or injuries 
  • Limited English proficiency 
  • Older adults 
  • Children 
  • Low income, homeless and/or transportation disadvantaged (i.e., dependent on public transit) 
  • Pregnant women 


If you or someone close to you has a disability and other access and functional needs, you may have to take additional steps to protect yourself and your family in an emergency.

How to Plan, Prepare, and Recover from a Disaster

Get Informed

Getting informed can help you prepare for when disaster strikes. Learn what disasters can affect your community, disaster plans such as emergency shelters and evacuation plans, and special assistance programs to prepare.  

  • Know what disasters could affect your area, which could call for an evacuation and when to shelter in place.  
  • Visit CalOES’ Access and Functional Needs page for resources and Frequently Asked Questions 
  • Download the FEMA app and get weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States. 
  • Watch FEMA We Prepare Everyday showing people with disabilities taking charge to prepare themselves and their families for emergencies. 
  • Keep a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to your local emergency station and monitor TV and radio. Follow mobile alerts and warnings about severe weather in your area. 
  • Watch FEMA’s Personal Disaster Preparedness videos to learn about personal preparedness tips for people with disabilities. 

Make a Plan

Individuals with Access and Functional Needs know their own functional abilities and needs during an emergency and should make a plan that best suits their individual needs. Create a network of trusted individuals such as family, friends, co-workers, and others who can assist you during an emergency and include them in your emergency planning process. Think about what you will be able to do and what help you may need before, during, and after an emergency.  

  • Build a Basic Emergency Supply Kit 
  • Register your VoIP, cellular phone, or email address to receive notices and alerts during a disaster at Alert San DiegoSelect the Accessible Option during registration to receive notifications in American Sign Language (ASL). 

Disaster Preparedness Guides

Disaster Preparedness Guides are available for people with disabilities and access and functional needs to help you better prepare for emergencies and disasters. These guides can help you get started to prepare an emergency plan. 

Related Resources