Guide to Emergency Stair Evacuations
Tuesday, 10 October 2017
Everyone knows it's important to be prepared with the proper equipment and skills in the event of an emergency. Where the issue becomes more tricky is in the actual application, in terms of which individuals require what kinds of assistance, the challenges that face you within your building, and how best to meet these demands in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
The one common factor in nearly every evacuation scenario, and the most difficult obstacle to overcome, is stairs. Stairs provide unique challenges for evacuations, as disabled persons will often require special assistance to traverse them, and both special equipment and teamwork are required to carry out these evacuations safely. In this article, we'll provide some key considerations to take into account when planning your safe evacuation procedure over stairs, as well a guide to some useful equipment that may help facilitate the process.
Safe Evacuation Procedure for Stairs
Evacuation Sledges and Evacuation Chairs are some of the most common pieces of equipment for the safe evacuation of disabled persons down stairs, allowing the assisting personnel to safely slide the evacuee down the stairs in a sitting or lying position. The decision to use one of these devices usually falls to the responsible person, who is most often a building owner, landlord, or an employer of the occupants of the building.
Before selecting a piece of evacuation equipment for your purposes, you should consult the local fire department or fire marshal as to whether this equipment is suitable for your building, or whether other options should be considered. When selecting the type and amount of equipment you need, the following should be taken into account:
1) Who Are the Disabled Persons in Your Building?
In determining this first factor, you must decipher what is meant by "disabled" in your context. This can mean those who are mobility impaired, or those who cannot negotiate stairs without assistance from devices or those around them. This group can also include those who do not feel comfortable going down stairs, such as those with arthritis, or temporary issues such as a fracture or sprain.
Once you've determined what a disabled person in your building is, you must collect a list of the disabled persons for whom you're responsible. If these people have not self-identified, you must collect this information by speaking to relevant management throughout the building, or sending around an email explaining the circumstances. It is important to ask occupants to voluntarily self-identify as 'in need of assistance during an evacuation', and who would be comfortable using evacuation devices in that situation.
Another option is to send out a building-wide checklist asking people to voluntarily disclose their disability, and what assistance they may require. They should of course be informed that this information would be kept confidential and shared only with those who have responsibility for their evacuation.
You must also consider a way to estimate the number of disabled visitors in your building. This could be achieved through a voluntary sign-in process, or simply by an estimate based on overall statistics.
2) Where Are the Disabled Persons in Your Building?
After the people in question have been identified, you must determine the floors on which disabled people will be located. If these people only have access to ground floor levels, you will most likely not be in need of stairway evacuation devices. The number of disabled persons located above ground floor will give you a better idea of how many evacuation devices you require in your building.
Of the disabled persons located above ground floor, you will need to enquire as to how many are unwilling to use emergency stair evacuation devices. It is possible that some individuals may be uncomfortable with the idea of using an emergency evacuation device, as it could be a fear-provoking task or one that is complicated by other needs. The mobility disabilities of some people may be too severe for the use of an emergency stair evacuation device, such as those who are unable to leave a motorised wheelchair, or those with spinal injuries.
Once you have determined the number of persons willing and able to use evacuation devices, you will have a much clearer understanding of how many such devices you may need. You should also consider how many such devices will be provided by fire departments, and whether these devices will be provided in an appropriate timeframe. Other considerations, such as whether there are emergency sprinklers installed in the building, will also be of importance, which you should discuss with your fire department.
3) Which Type of Device Do I Need?
After these factors are taken into consideration, you should have a better idea of the number of evacuation devices you require and the challenges evacuation teams will face. When deciding whether to choose an evacuation chair or an evacuation sledge, you should consider the specific requirements of each person in need of assistance.
For example, an individual may require their legs to be strapped in during evacuation, in which case an Evacuation Sledge may be appropriate. Otherwise, the individual may require to be physically sitting at a certain angle at all times, in which case an Evacuation Chair will most likely be the better option. After examining all relevant points of the needs of the individuals, the number of individuals in need, and the circumstances of the building that will need to be considered, only then will you be ready to determine which devices and procedures are appropriate for your situation.
Cost-Effective Stair Evacuation Sledge Offers
Whether your building or business is small or large, you may require either only a few evacuation sledges and chairs, or a much greater number. At Health and Care, we offer a range of offers on evacuation sledges, as well as a wide range of evacuation chairs from reliable manufacturers. Our evacuation sledge offers fall into four main categories, at increasingly competitive prices: