While a fire evacuation plan is vital to remaining safe, emergencies don’t happen to schedule. If you’re somewhere that is unfamiliar or doesn’t have a clear emergency evacuation plan in place, a plan of your own can make a significant difference.
However, thinking clearly in a crisis isn’t easy, and a safe evacuation is complicated if you, or someone you care for, has a mobility impairment. While mistakes are common, and understandable, a little upfront planning can significantly improve your chances at making it out safely.
Here are some common challenges to any evacuation from a fire, and what NOT to do in case of emergency.
Common Evacuation Challenges
While any evacuation is tough, fire evacuations have an added layer of risk, especially when you’re in an unfamiliar location. Here are some common challenges to plan for upfront:
- Movement difficulties. Evacuations often require moving people over distance, up and down stairs, and through narrow passages. During an emergency, there are often tight time limits to evacuate everyone fast and safely. This can add extra pressure when navigating through tight spaces.
- Knowing how to move people with disabilities. Evacuation coordinators may not know how to safely use evacuation aids, like a sled or chair. They may also not understand what assistance is required, and it’s not always possible to rely on paramedics intervening with ready-to-go stair chairs.
- A lack of an evacuation plan. An evacuation plan will map out emergency exits and equipment that will need to be used. Without a plan, the evacuation opens itself to unnecessary risks. For example, people may be confused about where to go, or they may use risky electrical equipment, like elevators.
- Ignoring the warning signs. Alarms and warning lights are used to warn of an emergency but are often dismissed as just an annoying, routine drill. Always listen to alarms and evacuate as soon as possible.
Not sure where to start when it comes to preparing for an emergency? We’ve created a free fire evacuation guide for you to download to help you begin your planning.
What NOT to Do During a Fire Evacuation
While it may seem obvious at any other time, errors of judgment can be common during an emergency. Here are the 5 essential things to remember during a fire evacuation (that you could drill, if needed).
- Do not leave someone behind during a fire evacuation. While it may seem safer than carrying them down flights of stairs or moving them from a secure spot, fires spread easily. Even with emergency services on their way, they may arrive too late. Always evacuate to a safer location, away from the emergency.
- Do not ignore the evacuation equipment. While some equipment may seem tricky to use, ask for assistance and try your best to use it safely. Evacuation equipment is bought to be used during an emergency and is often a lot safer than carrying someone down the stairs alone, or leaving them behind. And, if possible, help others become familiar with evacuation equipment.
- Do not use the elevator or permanent stairlift. During a fire evacuation, electric circuits are often the first to blow, and this could leave you trapped in an elevator during a fire. Always use the stairwells and don’t rely on anything that operates using electricity.
- Do not hide. Fear can paralyze us and make us want to hide away from danger. While this may seem safer than walking through flames, this is most likely to leave you trapped and endanger the lives of any first responders who have to come find you. Leave as soon as the alarms go off and take note of everyone that is with you.
- Do not forget to call the emergency services. Once you are safely away from danger, do not forget to phone the emergency services. When many people are trying to escape safely, rather make the call yourself than rely on others.
Keep in mind that the above tips are not professional or medical advice. Any orders from First Responders and Fire Marshals on the scene absolutely take precedence.
How an Evacuation Aid Could Assist
A person with mobility impairments cannot be left alone until the emergency services arrive, or carried down the stairs without safety restraints. During an emergency people often rush, which can lead to more accidents and nasty stumbles. A durable, safe and easy to operate emergency mobility aid is vital for the safe transport of people with mobility impairments.
An EMS evacuation stair chair is often the most versatile aid, as it can assist with a range of impairments. From helping the elderly move faster, to assisting those with visual impairments and even those with temporary disabilities — an evacuation chair is adaptable and versatile.
While we hope you never need to evacuate from a fire, it is better to err on the side of caution. At Mobile Stairlift, we’re committed to helping you prepare and stay safe. That’s why we created a durable and lightweight evacuation chair with this in mind. Our FDA-approved EZ Evacuation chair is designed to serve as a multi-functional chair to safely evacuate anyone who may need a little extra help. Learn more about the EZ Evacuation Chair here.