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Evacuation Procedures for People With Disabilities

A hugely important part of any businesses fire strategy is ensuring their employees know exactly how to respond to a fire, after all, a speedy and organised evacuation can save lives. So, to make sure your business and employees are fully prepared for a fire, it’s vital that you have the proper evacuation procedures in place.

Of course, these procedures must be able to accommodate everyone, so creating different escape strategies for the disabled is absolutely vital. In light of this, in this article the Protect & Detect team will outline some important evacuation procedures for people with disabilities.

Mobility impairments

Due to the wide-ranging nature of mobility impairments, many people can fit under this category. As such, the nature of the corresponding procedures will need to be able to adapt to this fact. For example, people with heart disease and asthma may also fall under this category.

For those with mobility impairments, the preferred options for evacuation will be horizontal evacuation to the outside of a building, or vertically via an evacuation lift. However, for those with less severe mobility impairments, stairs may be more than manageable.

In some circumstances, it may be necessary to use the carry-down technique, which can be achieved with two, three or four people. Such a method will require a full risk assessment, including a manual handling risk assessment, as well as proper training for the designated carriers.

Visual impairments

For those who are visually impaired, clear signage will do a great deal to assist evacuation. However, this will ultimately come down to the individual and the degree to which they are visually impaired.

To ensure that all visually impaired people can evacuate safely, it’s important to work with existing elements of the building to avoid risks. For example, good colour contrasting, handrails and easily visible stair treads will help everyone to facilitate their own escape.

Hearing impairments

Although you shouldn’t assume that those with hearing impairments aren’t aware of fire alarm sounders, it’s important to note that some people will need to be alerted to the fact that an evacuation is in process.

One particular adjustment which can be made to a fire alarm system is the application of flashing beacons. These beacons can alert hearing-impaired people during an evacuation, making the process run fluidly. Similarly, vibrating pagers can also be used to inform those who can’t hear the alarm, and alert them to which direction they should travel too.

In circumstances where no aids are appropriate, a buddy system can be used. In such instances, a designated person or ‘buddy’ will need to make those with hearing impairments or deafness aware of the evacuation.


At Protect & Detect, we offer a range of services to ensure your property or business meets all fire safety regulations, including comprehensive fire risk assessments. We also offer professional installation and safety checks on fire extinguishers and fire detection devices in a variety of business fields. For more information on our services, contact us today.


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