This section provides a general guideline of evacuation procedures for persons with disabilities who may have difficulty exiting during fire and/or other building emergencies. Faculty, staff, students, and visitors with mobility related disabilities must develop their own evacuation plans and identify their primary and secondary evacuation routes from each building they use.
- Be familiar with evacuation options
- Seek evacuation assistants who are willing to assist in case of an emergency.
- Ask supervisors, faculty, the Office of Access and Services for Individuals With Disabilities, or the Office of Public Safety about evacuation plans for buildings.
Emergency Exit Policy
Currently, no campus building has an Area of Rescue Assistance that is operationally approved. Areas of Rescue Assistance are designated places where people with mobility related disabilities remain temporarily in safety to await further instructions or assistance during emergency evacuations. Currently, individuals with mobility related disabilities should employ one of the following evacuation options that best meets their individual needs.
General Evacuation Guidelines For People with Disabilities (Mobility Related)
- DO NOT use elevators unless authorized to do so by public safety, police, or fire personnel. If the situation is life threatening, call 911 from a campus telephone, or from a non-campus or pay telephone.
- All emergency exit corridors and stairwells are resistant to fire and smoke for approximately two hours. These are the safest areas during an emergency evacuation. Disabled persons are advised to proceed to them. Rescue personnel are instructed to check all exit corridors and stairwells first for any stranded persons.
- If people with mobility related disabilities cannot exit or be lifted, they should be moved to a safer area, (e.g., most enclosed stairwells), into an adjoining building behind the fire doors, or to an office with a closed door located a safe distance from the hazard.
- If people are in immediate danger and cannot be moved to a safer area to wait for assistance, it may be necessary to evacuate them using either an evacuation chair or carry technique. DO NOT evacuate the disabled in their wheelchairs. This is standard practice to ensure the safety of disabled people and volunteers. Attempt a rescue evacuation ONLY if you have had rescue training or the person is in immediate danger and cannot wait for professional assistance. Consider your options and the risks of injuring yourself and others in an evacuation attempt. Do not make an emergency situation worse.
Evacuation Options for Individuals with Disabilities (Mobility Related)
In order to meet the guidelines listed above, there are three basic evacuation options:
- Horizontal evacuation: using building exits to the outside ground level or going into unaffected wings of multi–building complexes. For example, individuals may go from Thompson to Zankel or from Macy to Zankel or Macy to Grace Dodge.
- Stairway evacuation: using steps to reach ground level exits from the building.
- Stay in Place: unless danger is imminent, remaining in a room with an exterior window, a telephone, and a solid or fire resistant door. With this approach, the person may keep in contact with emergency services by dialing 911 or extension 3333 and reporting his or her location directly to TC Public Safety or other emergency personnel. Emergency services will immediately relay this location to on–site emergency personnel who will determine the necessity for evacuation. Phone lines are expected to remain in service during most building emergencies. If the phone lines fail, the individual can signal from the window by waving a cloth or other visible object.
The Stay in Place approach may be more appropriate for sprinkler protected buildings or buildings where an “area of refuge” is neither nearby nor available. It may also be more appropriate for an occupant who is alone when the alarm sounds. A fire label on the jam and frame can identify a “solid” or fire resistant door. Non–labeled 1-3/4” thick solid core wood doors hung on a metal frame also offer good fire resistance.
Specific Guidelines for Unique Circumstances (Non-Mobility Related)
Prior planning and practicing of emergency evacuation routes are important in assuring a safe evacuation.
- Persons Who Are Not Able to Exit Using Stairs
- Persons using wheelchairs may evacuate horizontally into another building. Stairway evacuation of wheelchair users should be conducted by trained professionals (NYFD). Only in situations of extreme danger should untrained people attempt to evacuate wheelchair users. Moving a wheelchair down the stairs or moving an individual is not safe unless an individual has the proper training. The individual needing assistance should be consulted about the proper way to move him/her.
- Persons with mobility related disabilities, reduced lung capacity, severe back ailments, heart disease or other conditions that may cause him/her to navigate stairs slower than those without one of these conditions may be able to negotiate stairs in an emergency with minor assistance. If there is no immediate danger (detectable smoke, fire, or unusual odor), the person may choose to stay in the building, using the other evacuation options until the emergency personnel arrive and determine if evacuation is necessary.
- Deaf and Hearing Impaired
- Deaf/ hard of hearing-impaired persons may not hear audible fire alarms.
- Get the attention of a person with a hearing disability by touch or eye contact, or by turning the light switch on and off. Do not use the light switch method if you smell natural gas in the area. Clearly state the problem. Be prepared to write a brief note to advise of the situation and evacuation instructions.
- Visually Impaired
- Tell the person the nature of the emergency. Give verbal instructions to advise about the safest route or direction using estimated distances and directional terms
- Do not grasp a visually impaired person’s arm. Offer your arm for guidance.
- As you walk, tell the person where you are and where obstacles are located. When you reach safety, orient the person to the location and ask if further assistance is needed.