How to Bug-Out With a Special Needs Person

You’ve done your due diligence well. Your bug-out place is well hidden, well stocked with food, water, medical supplies and weapons. You have planned several escape routes, there is hidden transportation, emergency communication between family members is established, about all you can do is wait for the unwanted disaster to occur. Really? How about grandpa who needs a cane to walk, or grandma who is deaf, or cousin Jeff who is legally blind? You need to know how to bug-out with a special needs person(s).

There’s no need to feel guilty about overlooking the special needs of a disabled person, as unfortunately we all unconsciously do it. We tend to live and see things through our thoughts and capabilities. For instance, a 25 year old person may have a 2 mile hike through tough terrain included into their bug-out plan, but a 65 year old person would do everything in their power to avoid such a treacherous journey. It’s the same thought process with a disabled (hand-capped) person. Unless we are or care for a disabled person, we can not really realize what they endure.

I’m going to offer some information and advise that will hopefully raise your awareness and offer answers to questions of how to bug-out with a special needs person. Before we go farther I want to declare that “I hope I am not offending anyone by using the terms disabled or handicapped. That is definitely not my intention.” Any offense I may do is out of ignorance, not intent.

Initial Thought Process:

One must consider a few things when determining how and if the special needs person(s) will be included in the bug-out plan. That sounds disgustingly cruel, but the decision to break grandma out of the nursing home will have consequences. For instance:

  1. Grandma’s care will affect the entire family or group and will require everyone’s acceptance. Your group may not be exclusively family, it may include friends or neighbors who would be reluctant to take on such a burden.

  2. The entire group will all have to share the responsibilities of meeting the special needs person’s requirements.

  3. The stress level of the entire group will escalate when you are already in a flight or fight stress mode. This includes the disabled person who doesn’t want to be a burden.

  4. Some people may have a difficult time dealing with a disabled person. Some people incur inherent fears and phobias that are hardwired, not discriminatory, and must be acknowledged and dealt with.

  5. Placing the responsibility of care taking on two or three people within the group is a sure fire way for the entire group to fail. Fatigue, discontent, resentment will tear a group apart, even family, and everyone’s safety will be compromised.

Be Aware of All the Group’s Needs:

You’ve decided in no uncertain terms to bust grandma out of the nursing home. If she’s gonna die it’ll be with family and that’s fine, but what exactly is the family? What if grandma is blind and has a service dog that is her eyes. Oops, forgot about that. Well, the dog can eat what we do. Yes and no. For short periods human food is fine, but in a long haul situation your dog’s nutrition requirements are different from yours. Here’s a brief checklist of what you need to have to properly care for your service dog.

  1. Minimum 4 day supply of bottled water and pet food

  2. Portable food and water bowls

  3. Manual can opener, canned dog food doesn’t have easy open pull tabs

  4. Leash and collar. Someone other than grandma will need to give bathroom breaks

  5. Blanket and toy. Animals get stressed too and a familiar blanket or toy helps

  6. Bandages. A dog’s paws are subject to cuts while traveling through rugged terrain

  7. Recent photo in case you and the dog become separated

  8. Should the dog require medications of its own you’ll need a list identifying medical condition, names of medications and dosages. Vet contact information.

  9. Verification of license and up to date shots. You have no idea what the situation will be after the dust settles. You may be required to prove your animal is safe.

What are the Needs of the Special Needs Person?

Might sound rather stupid, but do you know what a blind person needs in order to survive? Didn’t think so. How to Bug-Out With a Special Needs Person is … well special. Number one, if possible ask the person or their caretaker what’s required, but don’t stop there. You know what to expect on your bug-out journey, they do not. Use logic to foresee problems and formulate answers before hand if possible. Here’s an example list:

  1. What is required to get grandma ready to travel? (mentally & physically) A pep talk may be required to convince grandma she can accomplish the task.

  2. Are special items required? Special foods, medications, medical supplies (O2 tanks) wheel chair, manual and electric, scooters. Check that all equipment is in working order. The smallest mishap gets magnified a hundred times over during a catastrophic event. Broken bolt? No problem. The nearest hardware store is 10 miles away and probably not accessible.

  3. Specialized medications could be impossible to acquire. Consult with the doctor about an alternative medication, as the medicine, even if extra is prescribed will still run out.

  4. If an electric devise is required (scooter) for mobility, do you have the ability to recharge the batteries? Is a manual mechanical devise an option?

Food for Thought:

One must remember grandma was in the nursing home for a reason and depending on those reasons you might want to consider what happens after you reach your bug-out destination. If the reason was she just needed someone to lookout for her, that’s fine and she’ll probably thrive in a close family environment. But what if she needs specialized treatments that you can’t provide… what then? It may be a good idea to check what type of facilities are available, if any, where you are headed. Here’s a list of questions to consider when analyzing a nursing home or assisted living facility.

  1. Can the facility accept the patient long term? Some facilities are rehab facilities and are not prepared for long term care.

  2. Is the facility safe? Some neighborhoods deteriorate without regard of whats in it.

  3. Is the facility one that you and grandma would trust?

  4. Does the facility have adequate communication capability to allow easy access to information on the patient and the patient herself.

  5. What is your fall back solution (alternative) if the facility fails to meet expectations.

  6. Final issue: Will grandma go along with being placed in the nursing home?

Solved Everything?

No disrespect, but I’m not sure you fully grasp the seriousness of tending to a disabled person during a crisis situation and the planning it requires. I’m not trying to persuade you to leave anyone behind, just the opposite. I’m trying to make things as comfortable as possible for all concerned, as comfortable as possible in a SHTF situation. Here are some matters to consider that you may have overlooked:

  1. What is the difficulty, if any, in transporting the person? If they can walk to the bug-out vehicle great, but what if they can’t? Wheel chair accessible vehicles can solve that problem, but they are not four wheel drive. Is an off road capability important to your evacuation plan?

  2. Is your bug-out shelter handicap accessible? Does your quaint little cabin have 12 steps to reach the front porch? Can you modify the shelter or must you build another.

  3. If roughing it, can the wheelchair access the campsite? Trying to navigate a 30 degree incline in a wheelchair is all but impossible.

  4. Sanitation facilities. Are they wheelchair accessible and how far are they from the campsite? Additionally, what type of terrain must be crossed? Soft dirt and snow present a significant challenge.

  5. Sleeping arrangements. Is access possible into a popup camper or other RV that requires steps?

  6. It may sound selfish, but the needs of all the group must be considered. The challenge of getting a person out of a popup tent for a trip to the toilet in the middle of the night, when the weather may be horrendous (wind/rain/snow/sleet/drifts) will be taxing mentally and physically on the caregiver.

  7. What do you do if the person injures themselves, especially if bad enough to be beyond the medical knowledge and capabilities you have? Special needs people may/are already dealing with compromised health issues and evacuating them into the wilderness may be more than their condition can handle.

How to Bug-Out With a Special Needs Person can be difficult. The terms special needs, disabled, handicapped are broad non-descriptive terms. Special needs means anyone that requires assistance to function. This can be physical or mental and can be from slight mobility issues to extreme emotional conditions. In any event when anything upsets the normal routine their challenges escalate into major problems.


Good Samaritan Syndrome:

I actually do believe the majority of mankind is thoughtful and helpful. Not everyone will lie or steal from you, but rather offer a helping hand. So let’s assume you are on your way to your bug-out location and you happen upon a special needs person, what do you do? You have no experience dealing with this type of situation, but you want to help. Let’s look at several situations you may encounter and how to handle them.

Tips for Assisting Special Needs People:

  1. Ask the person if they need help and how you can assist them. Don’t assume because someone looks unusual they are in need of help. Don’t insult or embarrass them.

  2. If they refuse your help, but it’s obvious they require help (bleeding badly) call and wait for first emergency personnel to arrive.

  3. Unless it is a dire situation do not touch the person, their service animal or equipment without permission.

  4. If possible don latex-free gloves in order to reduce the spread of a viral infection.

  5. If there is a problem with equipment (wheelchair wheel won’t turn) follow the instructions posted on the equipment.

  6. Ask the person if there are any areas of their body that hurt or have lost sensation. Do they want you to check the area for injury.

  7. Do not try to move the person.

Mobility Disability:

  1. Again, use latex-free gloves when providing any sort of personal care.

  2. If evacuation is required, be sure the person’s wheelchair is transported with the person.

  3. If it is not possible for the chair to accompany the person, if possible you transport it or arrange to have the chair transported to the final destination.

  4. Unless its a matter of life or death, do not push or pull a person’s wheelchair without their permission.

Non-Visible Disabilities: You may encounter a person who appears perfectly normal but is having difficulty performing a certain task. These are what’s known as non-visible disabilities and can include communication issues, cognitive, sensory, or mental health issues. These can also include health issues such as allergies, epilepsy, heart problems or diabetes.

  1. Allow the person to describe the help they need. Be patient as the person may have difficulty communicating and the dire situation only exasperates the problem.

  2. Maintain eye contact with the person. This allows them to know you are addressing them and not someone next to you.

  3. Repeat instructions slowly and clearly if need be.

  4. Use effective ways to communicate. Offer written instructions or draw a map, using landmarks not terms like left or right. Instead of saying go right on Elm, say turn right at the fountain.

  5. If the person is attempting to take medication but is having difficulty, such as unable to open the child proof cap, offer to help. Never offer medication to a person. Someone may complain of heartburn and you offer a medication not knowing the person has an allergy to that specific brand.

It is Not uncommon for a person to be Blind and Deaf

Hearing Disability: We tend to forget we use several, if not all, senses to deal with situations and the loss of one can make a huge difference in how one reacts to an emergency situation.

  1. Never approach a hearing impaired person from behind.

  2. Get the person’s attention via a visual cue or a gentle touch on the arm.

  3. Face the person making eye contact while you speak to them. Many people rely on lip reading and close proximity to communicate.

  4. Speak clearly and naturally. Do not shout or speak unnaturally slow. A hearing aid amplifies sounds and screaming at the person could create confusion or pain for the wearer.

  5. Try to rephrase rather than repeat.

  6. Use gestures to help illustrate your meanings.

  7. If possible secure a paper and pen and write the message.

Vision Impairment: A person who is blind or has reduced vision may have difficulty moving through unfamiliar environments, which forces them to feel lost and/or dependent on others for guidance, which can be extremely frustrating.

  1. If you see a person who is deaf/blind and appears to be in distress, gently draw an X on their back with your finger, which let’s them know you can help them.

  2. In order to communicate with someone deaf/blind, trace letters in the palm of their hand with your finger.

  3. If you are guiding a person, walk a half step ahead of them and offer your arm so they can follow. Walk at their normal pace.

  4. Always give advance warnings of upcoming stairs, major obstacles or drastic direction change.

  5. Never grab a visually impaired person unless it’s a life or death matter.

  6. If the person has a service animal on duty, ask them where you should walk in order to avoid distracting the dog. Never separate a service dog from their owner.

  7. Avoid general terms such as “that way”, rather use terms like “right” “left” or use clock positions. The exit door is at 3 o’clock.

How to bug-out with a special needs person takes additional planning, forethought and consideration that you normally would never think of which is why the task of how to bug-out with a special needs person is so difficult. However, with a little research and planning the task can be accomplished. Shit is always going to happen, but if you plan for the normal obstacles life for you and the special needs person will be a lot easier and more comfortable.

Available on Amazon / Click Here

.2decover_1160x1308 (4)



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.