Since the tragedy of September 11th, many Americans have been involved in practicing evacuation drills as corporations, government agencies, and other buildings update current emergency procedures. Easterseals encourages people with all abilities to consider these s.a.f.e.t.y first tips when preparing for an evacuation:
Start preparing an evacuation plan now. If you have a disability, identify yourself to building managers and help devise an effective emergency procedure. People of all abilities must be equally prepared for an emergency evacuation. It is critical that everyone works together.
Ask family, friends and co-workers with disabilities — including those with vision, hearing and mobility issues — about their personal evacuation concerns and needs. Keep in mind that the needs of pregnant women, older adults, and people with injuries or illnesses are often similar to specific needs of people with disabilities.
Find "buddies." These can be co-workers or friends with whom you plan and practice. Buddies find you in an emergency and can provide planned assistance in the event of an emergency or evacuation.
Evaluate the area. Predetermine and practice your evacuation route with your buddies, who also know how to operate any special equipment needed to evacuate someone safely.
Test smoke detectors, public announcement systems, fire extinguishers, flashlights, et al., to assure proper function when needed. Make sure alternate alert systems are available for individuals with special needs, especially for people with vision and hearing disabilities).
You can help Easterseals by making this important issue top-of-mind in your community — talking to business leaders, building management, government officials, police and fire departments.
Across the country, safety and evacuation procedures are more important than ever, especially for 54 million Americans living with disabilities. Most existing evacuation procedures do not really address the specific needs of people with disabilities
With more than 85 years of experience helping people with disabilities gain greater independence and 50 years as a leader in creating architecturally accessible environments, Easterseals is uniquely positioned to address the safety concerns of Americans with disabilities and bring about positive change in our communities.