Emergency Evacuation Guidelines

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to discuss issues of fire safety with the Director of SDS and to inform faculty and other University personnel of issues specific to their disability that may be necessary to know in the event of an emergency.  The names and room locations of individuals with disabilities who are living in on-campus housing and who may need special assistance are provided to the Miami University Police Department for use in responding accordingly in the event of a fire or other emergency.

The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) provides the following helpful hints:

Visual Impairments:  Most people with visual impairments will be familiar with their immediate surroundings.  In the event of an emergency, tell the person with a visual impairment the nature of the emergency and offer to guide the person to the nearest emergency exit.  Have the person take your elbow and escort him/her out of the building.  As you walk, tell the person where you are and advise of any obstacles (stairs, doors, etc.).  When you reach safety, orient the person to where he/she is and ask if any further assistance is needed.

 Hearing Impairments:  Most buildings on campus are not yet equipped with visual fire alarms.  Some persons with hearing loss may not perceive audio emergency alarms and will need to be alerted to the situation by gestures or by turning the light switch on and off.  Emergency instructions can be given by verbalizing, mouthing, or by short, explicit note. Example: “Fire alarms – go out south doors – now!”

It is appropriate to offer assistance to an individual with hearing loss as you leave the building.

Residence halls in which a student who is Deaf/Hard of Hearing is living may already be equipped with visual fire alarms.  If not, arrangements can be made through Student Disability Services.

 Mobility impairments:  On a ground-level floor, persons with physical disabilities should evacuate via accessible exits along with other occupants of the building.  It is important to know where the accessible exits are in each building and to discuss issues of emergency with instructors.  In the case of upper-level floors, elevators should not be used for evacuation during a fire alarm, so persons with limited mobility may need assistance in evacuating the building.  As persons with limited mobility have varying degrees of limitations, information is offered for two possible scenarios: ambulatory and non-ambulatory impairments.

Ambulatory:  Persons with limited mobility who are able to walk independently, either with or without the use of crutches or a cane, may be able to negotiate stairs with minor assistance in an emergency situation.  Even some persons who customarily use a wheelchair or scooter for long distance travel may be able to walk independently in an emergency situation.  If individuals are able to walk up or down stairs, it is advisable that they wait until the heavy traffic has cleared before attempting to evacuate if possible.  Someone should walk beside the person to provide assistance in exiting the building, if needed.

Non-ambulatory:  In keeping with current philosophy and preference to "stay in place," the most recent advice from fire and campus safety experts is that wheelchair users should exit the building on their own if they can do so.  If they encounter stairs or otherwise cannot exit the building on their own, wheelchair users should move to and remain at a designated area of rescue assistance until emergency rescue personnel arrive.  A specific person should be designated to inform emergency personnel of the individual's location.  If rescue is deemed necessary, qualified personnel will assist in the evacuation.

NOTE: It is important to keep in mind that the person with the disability is the best authority on how to be moved.