Emergency Preparedness

Evacuation of Persons with Physical Disabilities

The following information provides basic guidelines for assisting persons with physical disabilities during an emergency evacuation. For more extensive information, please contact the Office of Disability Services.

Ground Floor

Persons with physical disabilities should exit the building along with other building occupants.

Above or Below Ground Floors

Visually Impaired

Tell the person with the visual impairment the nature of the emergency and offer to guide the person to the nearest exit. Have the person take your elbow and escort him/her out of the building. As you walk, advise the person of any obstacles. When you reach safety, orient the person to where he/she is and ask if any further assistance is necessary.

Hearing Impaired

Alert the person that there is an emergency situation by using hand gestures or by turning the light switch on and off. Verbalize or mouth instructions or provide the individual with a short note containing instructions. Offer assistance as you leave the building.

Mobility Impaired

Since elevators should not be used for evacuation during an emergency, persons with mobility impairments will need assistance evacuating. Individuals who can walk may be able to evacuate themselves. Walk with the person to provide assistance if necessary.

Evacuating individuals who are not able to walk is much more complicated. If there is no immediate danger, take the individual to a safe place to await emergency personnel. Whenever possible, someone should remain with the person while another individual exits the building and notifies emergency personnel of the mobility impaired person’s exact location.

Only in situations of extreme and immediate danger should you try to evacuate a wheelchair-user yourself. The person with the disability is the best authority on how he/she should be moved. Ask before you move someone. While it is best to let professional emergency personnel conduct the evacuation, a person with a mobility impairment can be carried by two people who have interlocked their arms to form a “chair” or by carrying the person in a sturdy office chair.