Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

It is vitally important for all people on campus to be prepared in the event of an emergency. The following are suggestions for how people with disabilities can become better prepared for emergencies and how other faculty/staff/students can assist them.

Tips for People With Disabilities

  1. Talk to instructors or coworkers to let them know you need assistance getting out of a classroom and/or building in the case of a fire, earthquake or other disaster. Find out the location of the nearest stairwell to your location. Ask for their assistance in working out an evacuation plan. Refer them to the Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) if they are not sure how to assist you.
  2. It is advisable to get to know others in your class or work area and to ask them to assist you in exiting the building if an emergency occurs.
  3. If you are unable to evacuate a building because of lack of assistance or inability to use an elevator, and you do not have an evacuation plan, look for the floor monitor wearing an orange reflective vest to make your need for assistance known. Go to the nearest stairway exit and wait for rescue personnel. In emergency situations rescue workers will go first to stairways to search for people who need assistance. If other people are around when the emergency occurs, ask someone to send help for you when safely outside.
  4. Inform rescue workers of the safest and most comfortable way to assist you in evacuating. If you use a wheelchair and need to be carried downstairs, let rescuers know how you prefer to be carried and explain any precautions they need to take in order to avoid causing you any discomfort or injury.
  5. If you take prescription medications on a daily basis, carry a three- to five-day supply with you at all times. In an emergency situation you may not be able to get to your home or a pharmacy for several days.
  6. If you have any medical conditions or drug allergies that emergency personnel would need to know about, keep written information in your wallet, purse, backpack, etc. Include the names and phone numbers of friends or relatives who can be contacted in an emergency.
  7. If an emergency occurs outside of work or class time, use a campus courtesy telephone (the emergency number is posted on it) or use a cell phone to call (415) 338-2222 for assistance.

Tips for Faculty/Supervisors

  1. Inform all students/employees of the nearest exit to use in case of an emergency. Faculty can print this information in the course syllabus and announce it on the first day of class.
  2. Encourage students/employees who may need assistance in an emergency to identify themselves and to make an evacuation plan.
  3. Develop a “buddy system” by recruiting at least two volunteers to assist each person with a disability requesting evacuation assistance.

Guidelines for Evacuating Persons With Disabilities

  1. Be aware of all marked exits from your area and building. Building Emergency Coordinators have maps showing emergency exit routes for your building.
  2. In all emergencies, evacuate people with disabilities if possible.
  3. Do not use elevators (unless authorized) since they could fail during a fire or a major earthquake.
  4. It may be necessary to help clear the exit route of debris (if possible) so that a person with a disability can move out to a safer area.
  5. Always ask someone with a disability how you can help before giving assistance. Ask how the person can be best assisted and whether there are any considerations or items that need to come with the person.
  6. Do not grasp a visually impaired person’s arm; ask if he or she would like to hold on to your arm to exit. Warn the person about steps. Be specific in your verbal instructions (i.e. “ to the right” rather than “this way”). Keep guide dogs with owners whenever possible.
  7. Get the attention of a person with a hearing disability by touch and eye contact. Use facial expressions, gestures and body movements to help in communicating your message. Offer visual instructions to advise of the safest route or direction by pointing towards exits or evacuation maps.
  8. If people with mobility impairments cannot exit, assist them in moving to the nearest stairway exit to await rescue personnel.
  9. Attempt a rescue evacuation only if you have had rescue training or the person is in immediate danger and cannot wait for professional assistance. Evacuating a disabled or injured person yourself is the last resort. Consider your options and the risks of injuring yourself and others in an evacuation attempt. Do not make an emergency situation worse.
  10. Once outside, move to a clear area that is at least 500 feet away from the affected building. Keep streets and walkways clear for emergency vehicles and personnel.