How Evacuation Chairs Enhance Condo and Apartment Building Safety

 In Blog

Building owners and managers have an ethical responsibility to do their utmost regarding their tenants’ safety and well-being.

First, preparing in advance for emergency situations — including evacuations — is crucial to keeping all residents and visitors safe.

Second, while an emergency like a fire, human threat, extreme weather condition or gas leak is a gloomy thought, establishing a solid emergency plan, taking the time to rehearse evacuation drills, and appointing key players in case of an evacuation will go a long way towards keeping you on the right side of the law.

One often overlooked facet when it comes to preparing for a building evacuation is researching, investing in, and procuring the right emergency evacuation tools, such as evacuation stair chairs.

Read on to learn about why evacuation chairs are an absolute necessity for condominiums and apartment buildings and a practical part of an inclusive evacuation plan in which every individual is considered.

The Role of Evacuation Chairs

Evacuscape’s evacuation chairs for emergencies empower a designated individual to transport people who have mobility challenges down flights of stairs to a safe zone during an emergency while power is lost, rendering elevators and escalators inoperable.

Those who may require assistance include:

  • People with a physical disability.
  • People with temporary injuries that impact mobility, like a cast and crutches.
  • Seniors, approximately 33% of those aged 65 and upwards, report having a mobility-related disability, with 44% of those aged over 74 experiencing mobility challenges.
  • Pregnant people. The weight that’s carried by pregnant women, especially in the later stages of pregnancy, can greatly impede their mobility. This can be especially problematic during a hurried evacuation.
  • Those who are vision impaired. 5 million Canadians self-identify as having sight loss, and 12 million Americans who are 40 and upwards report living with some sort of visual impairment.
  • Those who have experienced an injury as a result of the emergency — a situation that cannot be predicted.

Considering your current body of tenants, you might rule out any of the demographics listed above, but this would be a potentially dangerous error. In condominiums and apartment buildings, you cannot say who is visiting and who’s moving in or out at any given time — nor are all disabilities visible.

Being prepared for a fluctuating and revolving roster of residents and visitors is vital. You can’t schedule an emergency or a disaster; it will come as and when it pleases.

You might even find that being equipped to cater to individuals is an enticing mark for a potential tenant — a sign of a building that genuinely cares about its tenants.

How Does an Evacuation Chair Work?

We pride ourselves on supplying our customers with the best evacuation chair models. We have designed the EC1 and the EC2 to meet different needs, though both provide the same core function — transporting those who require assistance to safety.

Once the designated personnel have expanded the chair from its carry case, a simple belt or harness will help keep those who are using the chair in place during both transport and descent modes.

The chair maneuvers seamlessly along flat surfaces and transforms quickly and effortlessly into descent modes when one goes down the stairs.

A dark photo of a woman looking down from the landing of a stairwell at the many flights below.

Where Should You Keep Your Chairs?

To offer your residents absolute enhanced safety when they’re in their homes, it’s recommended that every floor has an evacuation chair — this is especially true for large buildings with a dense population.

Stair chairs should be stored at the designated refuge points — areas where those who require help await assistance. While the location of the refuge points will vary based on the building, generally speaking, they’re kept as close as possible to the most accessible and widest stairwell.

If you still have questions about where to keep evacuation chairs, let us know! Ultimately, an evacuation chair is only effective if:

  1. You have designated person(s), like an emergency warden, on every floor who know they might receive a notification from a refuge point from someone who is awaiting aid, and
  2. it’s in an obvious and easy-to-access location.

A Safe Evacuation is a Requirement

While the ethical weight to do the right thing is likely enough, there are also city-assigned requirements that mandate an inclusive response during an emergency evacuation — in other words, one where everybody is catered to.

In most cities, building managers are legally mandated to have an up-to-date evacuation plan. An adequate evacuation plan will have been crafted with all residents in mind, and will ensure that they can each get to safety calmly and efficiently.

In Canada’s Evacuating people who need assistance in an emergency: A guide for building managers and occupants, it’s noted that “Studies have shown that people with disabilities (both physical and intellectual) are at greater risk of injury or death in the event of a fire.” And consequently, that buildings should have “Comprehensive procedures to ensure the safe evacuation of all occupants, including at-risk individuals who need assistance to evacuate.”

The writers also strongly recommend that individuals who use a mobility device have their own evacuation plan. With that, enhancing the safety of the residents in your condo or apartment building should include opening lines of communication.

Communicating with Residents

Taking Canada again as an example, in most regions, building managers are required to keep a list of individuals who may require assistance. Following self-identification, these people are advised to work in partnership with the building manager to create an evacuation plan that works best with their abilities and meets their needs.

By leaving lines of communication open with residents, either through anonymous feedback forms, online surveys or simply by making building management present and accessible during the working week, it’s easy to connect with those who understand their individual needs most.

Practice Your Plan

It’s imperative that evacuation plans are not only put in place but that they are also practiced by all tenants. This doesn’t just include vacating the building; a proper trial will include the deployment and use of evacuation tools, like emergency stair chairs, to guarantee as smooth and as calm of an evacuation as possible.

Connect with Us

An evacuation is a stressful and scary situation. By creating a thorough response plan that caters to every individual, you’re greatly enhancing the safety of each and every one of your tenants and their guests.

Connect with us if you have any questions about Evacuscape’s evacuation chairs and how they can beneficially impact the safety of the individuals in your residential building.

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The back of a wheelchair in an office building. The chair is slightly blurred, giving the impression it's moving quicklyA corner of the Blue Jays Stadium at front base. There are rings of tiered seating with lots of sports fans watching from them