Assisting People with Disabilities in Disaster
HCC's emergency evacuation plan may be found at
People with disabilities who are self-sufficient under normal circumstances may have to rely
on the help of others in a disaster.
THINGS TO KNOW
THINGS TO DO
- People with disabilities often need more time than others to make necessary preparations
in an emergency.
- The needs of older people often are similar to those of persons with disabilities.
- Because disaster warnings are often given by audible means such as sirens and radio
announcements, people who are deaf or hard of hearing may not receive early disaster warnings
and emergency instructions. Be their source of emergency information as it comes over the radio
- Some people who are blind or visually-impaired, especially older people, may be
extremely reluctant to leave familiar surroundings when the request for evacuation comes from a
A guide dog could become confused or disoriented in a disaster. People who are blind or
partially sighted may have to depend on others to lead them, as well as their dog, to safety
during a disaster.
- In most states, guide dogs will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with owners.
Check with your local emergency management officials for more information.
- People with impaired mobility are often concerned about being dropped when being lifted
or carried. Find out the proper way to transfer or move someone in a wheelchair and what exit
routs from buildings are best.
- A person's disability aids or equipment may not be working after a disaster occurs or
may be insufficient for emergency purposes.
- Some people with emotional or developmental disabilities may be unable to understand the
emergency and could become disoriented or confused about the proper way to react. Some may need
to be in a quiet place to regain composure; others may hide from rescue workers.
- Many respiratory illnesses can be aggravated by stress. In an emergency, oxygen and
respiratory equipment may not be readily available.
- People with epilepsy, parkinson's disease and other conditions often have very
individualized medication regime's that cannot be interrupted without serious consequences. Some
may be unable to communicate this information in an emergency.
- Prepare an emergency plan. Work with neighbors who are disabled to prepare an emergency
response plan. Identify how you will contact each other and what action will be taken.
- If a disaster warning is issued, check with neighbors or coworkers who are disabled.
Offer assistance whenever possible.
- Be a source of emergency information as it comes over the radio or TV for people who
cannot hear the information. Communication can be accomplished by writing brief notes on a piece
of paper explaining the situation and plan of action.
- Regard a person with a disability as the best expert in his or her disability and ask
for advice before lifting or moving the person.
- Never separate a person with a disability from his or her assistive aids: wheelchairs,
canes, hearing aids, medications, special diet food, urinary supplies, service animal, etc.
Self-help networks are arrangements of people who agree to assist an individual with a
disability in an emergency. Discuss with the relative, friend or co-worker who has a disability
what assistance he or she may need. Urge the person to keep a disaster supplies kit and suggest
that you keep an extra copy of the list of special items such as medicines or special equipment
that the person has prepared. Talk with the person about how to inform him or her of an oncoming
HCC High Rise Building Evacuation of Persons with Mobility Problems
Two helpers should be assigned for each student with mobility problems. Procedures are as
- Assist the person to the nearest fire escape.
- Do not attempt to carry the person down the fire escape. The Honolulu Fire Department
(HFD) will be responsible for evacuating the person.
- Place the person in a safe area on the landing inside the fire escape.
- Make certain that the person is not obstructing evacuating traffic.
- Keep the fire door closed.
- Make note of the exact location of the person waiting for assistance.
- One helper stays with the person while the other helper seeks assistance from HFD
- Prior to leaving, both helpers should agree to meet to verify that they and the person
they are assisting have safely evacuated.
- The helper who leaves to inform HFD officials, needs to relay the exact location of the
person requiring assistance:
- Location of the fire escape: Ewa, Mauka, Makai, or Diamond Head
- Building and floor landing numbers
- After successful evacuation of the building, both helpers report to the instructor at
the designated assembly area.
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