Do you feel overwhelmed when you see all the options available for evacuation equipment? It’s crucial to choose the right equipment to ensure the safety of your building occupants in an emergency. However, the right choice might look different for each of your end users, as there are many reasons someone might need evacuation equipment.
We offer a range of evacuation equipment to suit any need and budget. Read on to learn more about the different options available.
There are three categories of emergency evacuation equipment: evacuation chairs, stair climbers, and evacuation aids. Some types of equipment are powered, while others are manual.
Manual evacuation chairs are only designed for descending stairs. However, they tend to offer a cheaper and more accessible option for many buildings. They are easy to operate and provide a quick solution for evacuations in buildings with flights of stairs. Find our range of manual evacuation chairs to suit every budget here.
Powered evacuation equipment has a clear advantage over manual equipment, allowing you to help your end user descend and ascend without needing to physically lift them. Powered equipment comes in two options: transfer and non-transfer.
Transfer options for powered evacuation equipment are smaller, more compact, and typically cheaper than their non-transfer counterparts. However, they rely on your end user being able to be manually transferred from their wheelchair to your evacuation equipment.
If your end user cannot be easily and comfortably transferred from their wheelchair into evacuation equipment, then a non-transfer option is better for you. With non-transfer evacuation equipment, your end user’s wheelchair can be put directly onto the stair climber. These are fantastic options for those with complex mobility needs or personalised wheelchairs. They also require less manual handling on your part. Check out the Jolly, Sherpa or Domino stair climbers.
These include evacuation sheets, mattresses, and slings.
Sheets are designed to be fitted under the end user’s mattress and left in place. If you need to evacuate, you slide both the evacuation sheet and mattress off the bed. One major benefit of evacuation sheets is that no transfer is required – your user stays on their mattress. However, you need a minimum of two people to operate this piece of evacuation equipment. How many end users do you have on site, and therefore how many operators might you need? Another thing to consider is whether your user’s mattress can fit comfortably through all your doorways. If it can’t, you’ll have to look at other options.
Evacuation mattresses are thicker than sheets and designed to be used on their own (without the user’s bed mattress). You can use these to take people off their beds and down the stairs. We stock a range of evacuation mattresses, including youth and bariatric versions. When thinking about whether an evacuation mattress would be suitable for your end users, consider the following: can they be removed from their mattress? Will they be comfortable in a horizontal position, or would a seated position (evacuation chair) be more suitable?
Finally, evacuation slings are used to transfer people from their wheelchair or the floor to an evacuation product. Most wheelchair users are not able to get up out of their wheelchair, walk over and sit down in an evacuation chair. This is where slings come in handy.
Looking for more specific advice? We’d be more than happy to walk you through the pros and cons of each evacuation equipment type. We can also chat to you about specific products and whether they’d be a good fit for you and your end user. Contact us here.
So you’ve spoken to your end users and chosen evacuation equipment based on their needs. What happens now?
The next step is to review PEEPs for your end users. Just having the evacuation equipment on hand isn’t enough – you also need a strong strategy so that, if required, you can use your equipment safely and efficiently.
A PEEP, or Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan, protects people who are unable to escape from a building unaided. PEEPs provide individuals with a strategy so they can receive the right level of assistance in the event of an emergency. They should be created as part of your wider fire strategy, considering the needs of your building users, the design of the building, and local fire procedures in your area.
When determining who requires a PEEP, the question to ask is ‘can this person leave the building unaided in an emergency’? If the answer is no, that person requires their own Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan.
During an emergency, a person with a disability may experience four main scenarios. The first scenario is being unaware of the alarm or emergency, which can occur with blind, deaf, deaf-blind, or unconscious individuals. The second scenario is being aware of the emergency but unsure of how to react, which can occur with those with mental health problems or learning disabilities. The third scenario is being aware but unable to react, which can occur with those with mobility problems, bed-bound individuals connected to medical equipment, or those with breathing difficulties. The fourth scenario is being aware but hampered, which can occur with those who are mono-dextrous, visually impaired, or epileptic.
Therefore, there are a wide range of reasons individuals might require PEEPs. Anyone with a physical or mental disability who is unable to move at the same pace as others during an evacuation requires their own individual strategy and assistance. Some individuals may require a PEEP, but only temporarily – for example, they are pregnant or recovering from a broken ankle.
Your PEEP should cover all locations your end user frequents on your premises. If they regularly use different buildings, your end user may require a separate PEEP for each building.
It must also contain details of the type of assistance the user needs, as well as any equipment required for them to evacuate safely. The level of assistance required needs to be clearly laid out. For example, if your end user is to be evacuated using a mattress, a minimum of two people are required to operate the equipment. The designated assistants will require training on how to operate the evacuation equipment, and you should ensure there is adequate cover in case of absences or staff holidays. Names and contact details of designated assistants also need to be included in the PEEP.
A PEEP should also contain a step-by-step account of the user’s evacuation procedure, as well as designated safe routes through the building for them to take.
Your end user may have preferences for the format of their PEEP – written in braille or large print, for example – or recorded on a CD.
Remember that the needs of your end users will change over time, as well as your building set up. A PEEP must be reviewed frequently to ensure any changes to requirements are actioned and updated accordingly.
At Evacu8, we understand the importance of emergency preparedness and the role that evacuation equipment and PEEPs play in ensuring the safety of your building occupants.
That’s why we offer a wide range of evacuation equipment options, as well as personalised training on how to use them properly. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you choose the right equipment and create effective emergency plans for your end users.