In an emergency, we are all at risk. Whether at work in a high-rise or at home in an apartment building, everyone can be prepared for an emergency evacuation. The key is being prepared: having information, building a support system, and knowing how to use it.
Across the country, personal safety and evacuation procedures are more important than ever — especially for the 54 million people in the United States living with a disability. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act made our communities more accessible for everyone. We found ways to let everyone in, but we also need to think about how to get everyone out.
Easterseals created a national public education campaign, s.a.f.e.t.y first: Working Together for Safer Communities as a response to our growing national concern for personal safety. It's a set of key questions, resources and an excerpt from the Building Owners and Managers Association's (BOMA) publication: "Are Your Tenants Safe?" (c.2000) that gives everyone a place to start. Our emphasis is on learning from specific solutions of people with disabilities and other special needs.
At Easterseals, we believe that everyone will benefit from what we learn when people with disabilities are included in planning for safety and evacuations. We know that most existing evacuation procedures do not address the specific needs of people with disabilities or of people who have special needs, such as women who are pregnant, older adults with mobility or sensory issues, and people with injuries or illnesses. This is designed for consumers, employers, building owners and managers, community leaders, and fire and police professionals.
With support from the disability community, from community leaders, employers, building managers, police and fire departments and government officials, Easterseals is leading the effort to create new solutions that will help everyone become better prepared for emergencies, with plans and practice for personal safety.