Disabled Persons

If you are disabled

  • It is your responsibility to prepare for emergencies by learning the location of exits, stairwells, fire alarms and fire extinguishers in each building you use frequently.
  • Know how to help others help you. Give clear instructions as to your needs or preferences. Look for a building marshal, floor captain or designated emergency personnel. Ask them to escort you to the nearest exit or to designate someone to assist you.
  • If you are alone in a building, trip the fire alarm, if possible. Safe areas are exit corridors and stairwells. As a last resort, go to these areas if trapped above the first-floor level, and continue to signal for help until rescued.
  • If you cannot speak loudly, you should carry a whistle or have some other means for attracting attention.

Hearing-impaired persons

Not all fire systems have a flashing light. Most are sound alarms. Therefore, persons with impaired hearing may not perceive emergency alarms, and an alternative warning technique is required. Two methods of warning are:

  • Writing a note telling what the emergency is and the nearest evacuation route.
  • Turning the light switch on and off to gain attention, then indicating through gestures what is happening and what to do.

Visually impaired persons

Most visually impaired persons will be familiar with the immediate area they are in. In the event of an emergency, tell the person the nature of the emergency and offer to guide them by having the person take your elbow and escort them out. As you walk, tell the person where you are and advise of any obstacles. When you have reached safety, orient the person to where they are and ask whether any further assistance is needed.

Crutches, canes or walkers

  • If the person is having difficulty exiting quickly, treat them as if injured for evacuation purposes.
  • Carrying options include using a two-person, lock-arm position carry, or having the person sit in a sturdy chair, preferably with arms.

Non-ambulatory persons (wheelchairs)

There are many considerations when moving a person in a wheelchair:

  • Lifting a person with minimal ability to move may be dangerous to their well-being, but in a life-threatening emergency it may be necessary to remove an individual from their wheelchair. Always consult with the person in the chair regarding how to best assist them. Assist as needed if the person is removed from the wheelchair (for example, ask whether the person prefers a stretcher, a chair with a cushion, or a car seat, or whether paramedic assistance is necessary). A number of people may be necessary for assistance.
  • Non-ambulatory persons may have respiratory complications. Remove them from smoke or fumes immediately and determine their needs and preferences. Some people in wheelchairs may have electrical artificial respirators attached. Life support equipment may be attached. They should be given priority assistance if smoke or fumes are present, as their ability to breathe is seriously in danger.
  • Wheelchairs have many movable or weak parts that were not constructed to withstand the stress of lifting. You may have to remove the chair batteries.