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Assisting Individuals with Disabilities - Building Evacuation

Staff are expected to direct the evacuation from their work area as discussed in this policy paper.

  1. Students with disablities will contact their Resident Assistant during the first week of the semester if they need assistance evacuating the residence hall.

  2. They may request their Resident Assistant's help in recruiting student volunteers from the floor near them who can assist them in the evacuation process. It will be the disabled student's responsibility to notify residence hall staff of their personal evacuation plan during an emergency. The options are to remain in place or to evacuate. During an emergency, residence hall staff will not be able to go room to room assisting students to evacuate.

  3. The campus University Health and Counseling Services Physical Therapist will provide door and window markers for persons with disabilities so emergency response staff will know their locations.

  4. Resident Assistants will keep a log and floor plan of the disabled student rooms on their floors. This plan will be kept by the floor RA and at the main desk in each residence hall.

  5. The following standard operating procedures should be followed by students with disabilities who are unable to self evacuate residence halls:

    1. Fire Evacuation
      Persons with disabilities who are unable to self evacuate should close their doors and place a wet towel at the bottom of the door. They should wait there until assistance from the residence hall staff or fire department arrives, if necessary.

    2. Tornado Evacuation
      Persons with disabilities who are unable to self evacuate should if able:

      • Crawl under a desk or protect yourself with a mattress
      • Sit in a fetal position, keeping face and head covered
      • Stay clear of windows if at all possible

    Assisting the Wheelchair User:

    • Remember: Wheelchairs have parts not designed to handle the stress of lifting.
    • Never carry the person while in their wheelchair. However a manual chair can be used to assist the evacuation process.
    • Prior to moving the person, check for life-support equipment.
    • DO NOT take an electric chair up/down stairs.
    • If the student is unable to speak clearly, look for a sign on the chair with printed instructions.
    • Position the person in the safest place possible according to the emergency.
    • Alert emergency personnel of person's location.

    Assisting the Person with Visual Impairment:

    • Offer to assist the visually impaired to a safe location.
    • Have the person take your elbow.
    • The person with visual impairment will be responsible for their guide dog.

    Assisting the Person with Hearing Impairment:

    • Alert the person with hearing impairment that an emergency exists.
    • Use gestures/notes to indicate type of emergency.

    Assisting the Person with Mobility Impairment:

    • Offer your assistance.
    • If help is requested, assist as directed to a safe location.
    • The person with mobility impairment will be responsible for their service dog.

    General Guidelines for Fire and Tornado Emergency:

    • Remain calm.
    • Be familiar with the distinct fire/tornado alarm signals.
    • Know primary and alternate routes of evacuation or exit.
    • Never use an elevator in a fire or tornado emergency.
    • Leave ALL materials in the room to avoid wasting time.
    • Do not move disabled persons without first asking them.
    • For fire emergencies never re-enter a building until permitted by emergency personnel.

Fire Emergency Response

If a fire alarm sounds and you are in a building, please do the following:

  • Remain calm.
  • Feel door and knob; if cool, open door slowly.

    If door knob is hot or hallway is filled with smoke:

    • Seal cracks around door with wet towels, clothing, etc.
    • If a phone is available, call the Fire Department (dial 911) to report the fire.
    • Open the window and hang an object out the window such as a sheet or clothing to attract attention.
    • Remain near window and keep low to floor.
    • Keep your face covered to aid in breathing.

    If you can exit safely:

    • Always wear shoes.
    • Close and lock your door and window.
    • Do not use elevator.
    • Leave through the nearest exit; if smoke is present, use another exit.
    • Stand clear of building after exiting.
    • Do not attempt to re-enter building.

Tornado Emergency Response

If you are alerted about a Tornado Warning or other severe weather please do the following immediately:

  • Avoid auditoriums, gymnasiums, and other large rooms with free-span roofs
  • If in your room, close and lock your window and door before leaving
  • Do not use elevators
  • Move to the basement or a lower level hallway as quickly as possible
  • Stay away from windows and other areas with large quantities of glass
  • Protect your head and face. If possible, get under a sturdy table or other structure
  • Do not return to your room until all clear is given by resident hall staff.

    If there is not time to evacuate to a safe area:

    • Crawl under a desk or protect yourself with a mattress
    • Sit in a fetal position, keeping face and head covered
    • Stay clear of windows if at all possible