In the context of emergency management, to say a person has a “functional need" and/or requires "support services" implies that the person, given the availability and effectiveness of their individual support systems, can comfortably and safely function under usual circumstances. However, that person’s ability to comfortably and safely function may be challenged during or after an emergency, if their individual support systems are unavailable or ineffective. Functional needs populations include individuals with physical, sensory, or intellectual disabilities; people with mental health issues; children; people who are elderly; persons’ whose primary language is something other than English; individuals medically or chemically dependent; people geographically and culturally isolated; people who are homeless; people who do not drive; and others, all of whom may experience functional needs in an emergency.
People with functional needs and/or requiring support services, should plan appropriately for emergencies. Planning should include: building a support network of friends and relatives, ensuring that plans and supplies are in place and accessible. To ensure that your emergency plan accommodates any unique needs you may have, consider what special equipment, goods, or services you might need in the event of a disaster. This includes items that would allow you to evacuate (if necessary), survive for three or more days on your own, shelter-in-place, and more.