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Evacuation for People with Disabilities

In this Section

In All Emergencies | Responses to Emergencies

The most important factor in emergency safety for people with disabilities is advanced planning.  A guide to help plan evacuation strategies is available from Campus Safety & Security at 268-5965 or 268-6666.

In All Emergencies

After an Evacuation is ordered

  • Evacuate people with disabilities if possible.

  • Do not use elevators, unless authorized to do so by police or fire personnel.  Elevators can fail during a fire or a major earthquake.

  • If the situation is life threatening, call ext.6666.

  • Check on people with special needs during an evacuation.  A buddy system, where people with disabilities arrange for volunteers to alert them and assist them in an emergency, is a good method.

  • Always ask someone with a disability how you can help before attempting any rescue technique or giving assistance.  Ask how he or she can be best assisted or moved and whether there are any special considerations or items that need to come with the person.

Responses to Emergencies

Blindness or Visual Impairment | Deafness or Hearing Loss | Mobility  Impairment

Blindness or Visual Impairment

Bomb Threat, Earthquake, Fire, Hazardous Materials Release, and Power Outages

  • Offer to lead them out of the building to safety

  • Give verbal instructions about the safest route or direction using compass directions, estimated distances, and directional terms.

  • Do not grasp a visually impaired person's arm.  Ask if he or she would like to hold onto your arm as you exit, especially if there is debris or a crowd.

  • Give other verbal instructions or information (e.g., elevators cannot be used).

Deafness or Hearing Loss

Bomb Threat, Earthquake, Fire, Hazardous Materials Releases, and Power Outages

  • Get the attention of a person with a hearing disability by touch or eye contact.  Clearly state the problem.  Gestures and pointing are helpful, but be prepared to write a brief statement if the person does not seem to understand.

  • Offer visual instructions to advise of the safest route or direction by pointing toward exits or evacuation maps.

Mobility Impairment

Bomb Threat, Earthquake, Fire, and Hazardous Materials Releases

  • It may be necessary to clear the exit route of debris (if possible) so that the person with a disability can move out or to a safer area.

  • If people with mobility impairments cannot exit, they should move to a safer area, for example:

    • most stairwells

    • An office with the door closed, which is a good distance from the hazard (and away from falling debris in the case of earthquakes).

If you do not know the safer areas in your building, call Safety & Security or Environmental Health and Safety for a building survey

  • Notify police or fire personnel immediately about any people remaining in the building and their locations.

  • Police or fire personnel will decide whether people are safe where they are and will evacuate them as necessary.

  • If people are in immediate danger and cannot be moved to a safer area to wait for assistance, it may be necessary to evacuate using a carry technique.


Power Outages

  • If an outage occurs during the day and people with disabilities choose to wait in the building for electricity to be restored, they can move near a window with natural light that is also near a working telephone.  During regular working hours, building coordinators should be notified so they can advise emergency personnel.

  • If people would like to leave and an evacuation has been ordered, or if the outage occurs at night, call the Department of Campus Safety & Security at ext.6666.

  • Some campus telephones may not operate during a power outage, Emergency Blue Light Phones and pay telephones are likely to be operating.  As soon as information is available, the campus emergency information line (ext. 6666) will have the latest updates.