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Special Needs Shelter (SpNS)

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When a major disaster threatens Okaloosa County residents, medically dependent individuals may need to seek shelter where they can continue with their oxygen needs and where limited medical assistance can be provided. The special needs shelter will have medical staff on hand for basic medical assistance.

It is important to keep in mind that a special needs shelter is a shelter of last resort. It is even more imperative that a person who has medical needs and cannot care for himself or herself have a disaster plan to address his/her needs. Special needs shelter should only be relied upon as a back up to an already well thought out plan.

FDEM l 2015 Statewide Special Needs Registry PSA

Special Needs Shelter - Registry - FDEM

FDEM l 2015 Statewide Special Needs Registry PSA- Caregiver

Special Needs Shelter - Caregiver PSA - FDEM

What Does a SpNS Offer?


A special needs shelter will provide shelterees with:

  • Basic food and water. If you are on a special diet, you will have to bring non-perishable food items with you.
  • Basic medical assistance and monitoring will be available from qualified health care professionals; however, any advanced medical care or equipment is not available.
  • Back-up electricity and liquid oxygen will be made available.
  • Space for yourself and your required caregiver.
  • Space for service animals only. There are no other pets allowed. You must make arrangements for your pet prior to entering a special needs shelter.

You May Qualify If: 

  • You need assistance with basic everyday tasks.
  • You have a chronic condition that requires assistance but not hospitalization.
  • You are oxygen dependent.

I Am Qualified.

How do I register?

What do I bring?

More Frequently Asked Questions about a Special Needs Shelter

Limited Availability and Limited Care 

Okaloosa County Special Needs Shelter has limited availability and limited medical care available. In order to give the best care possible under the emergency circumstances, we do not accept the following categories into the shelter (this is not all inclusive):

Bedridden patients - There are no hospital beds in the shelter. This is an emergency shelter with cots.

Dialysis (hemodialysis and peritoneal) - The SpNS shelter does not have the staff or the proper equipment to support dialysis patients.

285+ pounds - Due to the capacity of the SpNS cots, we cannot accept patients 285 pounds and over.

Ventilator dependent - SpNS shelter does not have the staff or the proper equipment to support ventilator-dependent patients

Mental instability - The SpNS is not equipped with the appropriate staff or facility to meet the needs of the patient. In addition, any person who is combative or exhibits violent tendencies is a potential threat to themselves, staff and shelterees.

Third Trimester Pregnancy

Patients requiring isolation (MRSA/TB)

IV Therapy