What are Special Needs?

According to House Bill 7121 passed during the 2006 State Legislature, special needs is defined as “persons who would need assistance during evacuations and sheltering because of physical, mental, cognitive impairment, or sensory disabilities.”  The bill further states: “Each local emergency management agency in the state shall maintain a registry of persons with special needs located within the jurisdiction of the local agency.”

Special needs shelters are designed to meet the needs of persons who require assistance that exceeds services provided at a general population shelter. A special needs shelter is a place to go when there is no other sheltering option. Shelters may be activated during an emergency event to provide care for people who cannot safely remain in their home.

Special needs shelters are intended to provide, to the extent possible under emergency conditions, an environment that can sustain an individual’s level of health.

If a person is medically stable but needs help with basic tasks or uses an electronic medical device and has no other evacuation options, they should pre-register for a special needs shelter.


Eligibility for Special Needs Shelters 

  • People with special medical needs.

  • People whose care exceeds the basic first aid provided at general population shelters.

  • People with impairments or disabilities who are medically stable and do not require medical care.

  • People with disabilities are not required to go to a special needs shelter. Some people with disabilities can be safely accommodated in a general population shelter.

The capabilities of each special needs shelter varies based upon a community’s needs and available resources.

To Register Online, CLICK HERE

Printable Application: Franklin Special Needs Registration Form

Prior to Going to a Shelter 

  • Personal Contact and Medical Information
    Compile a list of friends or family who can be contacted during an evacuation. Include the name and phone number of a primary medical provider as well as the names and doses of all medications.
  • Shelter Kit
    Assemble an emergency supply kit in a duffle bag or backpack and label it with the client’s name and phone number. Store the supply kit in a place that is dry and easily accessible. Include all medications and medical equipment including batteries and power cords.
  • Important Documents
    Store an emergency contact list and documents in your emergency supply kit in case your home is damaged. Keep the information in a safe place and give copies to your personal support network and out of area contact.

State Of Florida on Special Needs:

Special Needs Sheltering Index

Florida Department of Health Special Needs Shelter Program