Emergency evacuation chairs can be a literal lifesaver for people with mobility impairments who need to navigate stairs quickly, and safely, in a crisis. While evacuation chairs for stairs are an essential part of emergency preparedness, differentiating between makes and models can feel near-impossible.
Which of the many available is best suited to your needs? How can you guarantee you get value for your money? To know which evacuation chair may be the better choice it’s essential to first identify what you’ll be needing it to do, before shortlisting options that offer the quality in design and manufacture that meet those needs.
What Do You Need From Your Emergency Evacuation Chair?
First responders and emergency personnel will demand significantly more from their evacuation chairs than someone who simply needs one at home in case of emergency.
To ensure you don’t over- or under-invest, first clarify your intended use. Here are key questions to ask yourself before shortlisting your favorite evac chairs.
- How often will I use it? If you’re in emergency services, you’ll need a chair that can withstand being used (safely) multiple times a day. Evacuation chairs for professional use tend to be built more robustly than their home-use counterparts, to last just as long.
- Where will I store it? While they’re fairly compact by design, you’ll need to know whether your chair is likely to be stored in a spacious storage cupboard or the tighter confines of an ambulance. This will help you better identify a make and model of suitable dimensions — ensuring you don’t end up with a chair that doesn’t fit its intended home.
- Who will be transported in it? The maximum weight loads between chairs will differ. Take a moment to consider who you’re planning to transport, to ensure you get the appropriate chair. For example, children may not be able to use a chair that’s been designed for adults. You may also need additional features, to cater to particular mobility impairments your intended patients may have.
- How long do I need it to last? Sometimes you just need something as a once-off. In that case, there may be no harm in investing in a cheaper chair that won’t last as long (provided it’s safe enough for its intended lifespan!). However, if you’re hoping for a chair that will stand the test of time, it will be worth investing more for quality design and manufacture that lasts longer.
- Will I need after-sales support? If you’re planning to use the evacuation chair as part of a first response team, or as a staple of your home emergency-preparedness plan, you’ll appreciate having support on hand. USA brands can deliver after-sales support in case you have difficulty setting-up your chair, or in the unlikely event of a manufacturing fault.
Emergency Evacuation Chairs Are Not Made Equal
Once you’ve identified what you need from your evacuation chair, you’re all set to identify the markers of quality that ensure the makes or models you’ve shortlisted can meet those demands.
Keep an eye out for the following features to ensure a worthwhile investment:
- A light and durable frame. During an emergency, seconds can save a life. A light and durable frame helps you move as quickly as possible by minimizing the load on transporters, ensuring you move fast without compromising on safety.
- A reasonable weight load. Robust chairs designed for professional, emergency services use should be able to carry at least 400lbs to ensure a safe evacuation for a wide range of patients. Chairs designed for more occasional use should, ideally, at least have a weight load of 350lbs to ensure their versatility.
- A quality guarantee. Reputable brands will offer a warranty and returns policy to safeguard your purchase. You should insist on a warranty that covers both your frame and replacement parts (though it’s normal for warranty periods on frames to be longer).
- Uncompromised comfort and safety. The user of the evacuation chair should be comfortable, yet safe enough to carry. While FDA-approval is essential, you may also want to prioritize some extras like headrests, safety belts, ankle restraints, an ergonomic seat and padded hand grips.
- Rubber track system. Not all chairs offer a track system, which provides a safer and easier evacuation process. A quality chair should offer anti-slip rubber tracks that will allow the chair to grip and glide along the stairs ensuring a smoother ride for the passenger and less strain for the operator.
- A fair price. Quality is worth paying for, but with costs varying wildly, how do you spot a bargain versus a waste of money? Consider all the factors affecting emergency evacuation chair prices before simply defaulting to the cheapest, or most expensive, option.
Choosing Your Emergency Evacuation Chair
Ultimately, your choice of chair is determined by your needs and what a particular make and model offers. While home users may prefer lighter, more portable models such as the EZ LITE evacuation chair, first responders and those working in emergency medical services may find the enhanced features of the EZ Evacuation Chair a better fit.
Both are FDA-approved and quality guaranteed, and designed for safe, speedy evacuations in case of emergency. Visit our product page to compare them, and match the right model to your needs.