Helping the Disabled and Elderly in Safe Evacuation
The populations of Canada and the United States are growing ever older. Soon the demographic of people over the age of sixty-five will be the fastest-growing one. The elderly and people with physical disabilities are the most at risk of death or injury in a building fire due to their lack of mobility. In a high-rise or other multi-story building, elevators cannot be used in a fire emergency. Thus it is difficult for people who have reduced mobility issues to quickly get down the stairway and out of the building to safety. As the aging population in North America grows, it is important to provide a means by which people can safely evacuate from buildings to escape harm and even death.
Such a device to assist in this regard is an evacuation chair. An emergency evacuation chair is a device that only requires one person to use to assist another. It is relatively light and easy to maneuver but can accommodate a person who weighs up to about 350 pounds in. Some of the populations that would be served by such a chair include the elderly, those with limited mobility for various reasons, the blind, the temporarily disabled or injured, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions such as pulmonary or heart disease. Evacuscape is one company, based in Canada, providing these emergency chairs.
These evacuation chairs should be placed near staircases at every level of a building over one story high, whether residential or commercial. They are constructed to allow them to be conveniently folded and attached to a wall via an easy-to-install bracket. These chairs will allow another individual to safely assist someone in need to egress the building. The chairs are high quality but low in price, making safety affordable. Property managers and building owners should also provide communication on the chairs' whereabouts and proper use.
Canada and other countries are moving towards universal design as a concept which focuses on creating a safe environment for everyone regardless of age. In fact, both Canada and the United States have specific legislation mandating means of egress for emergency evacuations. Using these chairs becomes part of such a universal design plan for fire safety in particular whereby safe and quick evacuation from buildings in fire or other emergencies is standardized. Using evacuation chairs to increase safety is the socially responsible thing to do. These should be placed throughout multi-level buildings. Having the system in place provides peace of mind.