Understanding the Different Types of Evacuation

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There are different types of emergency evacuations that you need to prepare for. Some emergencies make it unsafe for building occupants to leave the premises, and some emergencies make it unsafe for occupants to stay.

A stair evacuation chair is an emergency tool that’s crucial for all types of evacuations. With a stair evacuation chair, a person can be transported up/down staircases and toward a safer location. It can be used to help people with disabilities, seniors, pregnant women, people recovering from injuries and other vulnerable people in emergencies.

Read ahead to learn about four different types of evacuations, what types of emergencies apply to them and how stair evacuation chairs can help.

Moving to the top floor of a building during a stay in place order

1. Stay in Place

The first type of evacuation that you should know about is a “stay in place” or “shelter in place.” A stay in place evacuation is meant for situations when leaving the premises could put the health and safety of occupants at risk.

What happens during a stay in place order? Authorities will ask that building occupants stay inside until the emergency situation has minimized in severity or has been completely alleviated. They may need to wait out the emergency in that space for hours, and potentially, days.

Certain parts of the building may not be safe, so occupants may need to move to a specific floor or room and stay there — this is considered a Stage 2 evacuation (also known as a lateral evacuation). Find out more about the different stages of evacuation here.

What Emergencies Require Staying in Place?

  • The threat of violence. For instance, if an active shooter is trying to enter the building, occupants may need to move to a safe space in the building far from the entrances.
  • Dangerous weather, like flash floods, tornadoes and winter storms.
  • Chemical attacks or spills outside of the building.

How Can a Stair Evacuation Chair Help?

A safer location inside the building might be inaccessible to certain occupants with mobility issues. With a stair evacuation chair, people with mobility issues can get assistance with a lateral evacuation that requires going up stairs, down stairs or across a building very quickly. The chair will also be useful when the type or stage of evacuation changes, like if occupants need to fully vacate the building.

A series of buildings ready for evacuation

2. Building Evacuation

The second type of evacuation is a building evacuation. A building evacuation is necessary when staying inside the building poses a direct threat to the occupants. This applies to any type of building, whether it’s a house or a high-rise condominium.

All the occupants should do their best to evacuate the building quickly and move to a safer location as soon as possible. Ideally, this safer location should have been discussed in evacuation drills.

What Emergencies Require Building Evacuations?

  • Fires.
  • Gas leaks.
  • Structural problems. This is when the building’s structural integrity is at risk, and it’s no longer safe to stay inside.

While they’re not emergencies, evacuation drills are also times when occupants will likely need to evacuate the building to prepare for the above scenarios. Look at what you can do to set up an effective evacuation drill for your building, whether it’s a household or a high-rise.

How Can a Stair Evacuation Chair Help?

A stair evacuation chair can be helpful for occupants that need to evacuate but can’t take the stairs quickly or safely. They’re especially important for evacuations from high-rise buildings. According to the National Fire Protection Association, high-rise occupants should avoid using elevators during fires. Why? The building’s power could go out, and people could get trapped inside the elevators. They can’t assess nearby threats while in an elevator, so they could also unwittingly move to a dangerous floor by accident.

Occupants shouldn’t use elevators during evacuations unless they are directed to by the fire department or unless the elevators have been clearly marked to be safe to use during emergencies. In most cases, the stairs are the best mode of evacuation, and they may be the only mode of evacuation after a power outage.

Many occupants can’t use the stairs to evacuate, especially in a high-rise that could have well over 20 flights to go down. An evacuation chair will help these vulnerable occupants get down the stairs and to emergency exits without putting their health and safety at risk.

3. Community Evacuation

A community evacuation is when the occupants of a specific area, like a neighbourhood or a university campus, need to evacuate as soon as possible to ensure their safety.

What Emergencies Require Community Evacuations?

  • Fire.
  • Threats of violence. For instance, when a bomb threat is made against the premises.
  • Oncoming severe weather. For instance, areas located on local flood plains may want to evacuate if there is a risk of flooding.

How Can a Stair Evacuation Chair Help?

Similar to a building evacuation, it may not be possible to use normal mobility aids like elevators, stairlifts or even escalators in these emergencies. It also may not be possible to use vehicles to leave the premises, especially since there may be large crowds of people trying to leave all at once.

A stair evacuation chair can help transport vulnerable people out of the area and to a safer location without their usual modes of transportation, even in the midst of a moving crowd.

The downtown core of Toronto

4. City Evacuation

A city-wide evacuation (also known as a mass evacuation) is when citizens are encouraged to evacuate their city and seek shelter in a safer location as soon as possible. A city-wide evacuation is a serious call-to-action and will not be requested by authorities unless the scenario is seen as an impending threat on the entire populace and staying in place is too risky.

What Emergencies Require City Evacuation?

  • Impending natural disasters like oncoming wildfires or typhoons.
  • The threat of widespread violence, like warfare.
  • Infrastructure disasters, like a power plant meltdown.

How Can a Stair Evacuation Chair Help?

A stair evacuation chair can help with various stages of a city evacuation, including getting out of a building safely and evacuating crowded areas. If you’re planning for an emergency like this, and you could benefit from a stair evacuation chair, you should get one.

Remember to bring your evacuation chair with you to your next destination. There is no guarantee that there will be evacuation tools like this available, so it’s best to be prepared.

It’s important to know the different types of evacuations and what emergencies they’re meant for. You never know when you’re going to need to drop everything and follow these protocols.

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