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Emergency Preparedness for Individuals Who Have DisABILITIES

It is important for all individuals to take ownership of their personal safety by establishing a personal emergency plan and arming themselves with information about emergency procedures before an emergency happens. Individuals with disabilities should follow the general guidance contained on the Be Prepared website as well as the specific instructions provided below. The university strongly urges all students, faculty and staff to register for UH ALERT for emergency text and email alerts.

Preparing Before an Emergency

PERSONAL EMERGENCY PLAN

Every individual should work with university faculty and staff to develop a personal emergency plan that outlines appropriate resources and responses in the event of an emergency. The plan should include specific evacuation procedures, sheltering procedures, and means of communication in the event of an emergency. It should also contain:

  • for each of the buildings that the individual frequents, the safest location on each floor where they can await assistance from emergency personnel;
  • communication tools that the individual can use to inform emergency personnel of their location;
  • the names of at least two friends/coworkers who are willing and able to provide assistance to the individual during an emergency. These individuals should be a friend or coworker who is likely to be in the same building at a similar time frame as the individual. They should familiarize themselves with appropriate procedures by reviewing the Be Prepared website and the section of this website on assisting individuals with disabilities.

ACTING DURING AN EMERGENCY

Individuals should familiarize themselves with, and follow the guidance of, the Be Prepared website for the appropriate response to various types of emergencies. This website describes three basic responses to emergency situations: shelter in place, wherein individuals locate and remain in a safe area within their general vicinity, evacuate, in which individuals leave their building or lockdown, which is when you barricade yourself in a safe place due to a person with a weapon threatening campus. The UH ALERT message will indicate which step to follow in case of emergencies; however it is best that members of the campus community develop a basic knowledge of which response is appropriate for various situations so that they can respond to the emergency as quickly as possible. Individuals with disabilities should follow the responses outlined on the Be Prepared website but make accommodations for situations in which elevators are inaccessible, precluding evacuation.

EVACUATIONS

Elevators should never be used in evacuation situations. Individuals who are unable to use the stairs to exit should ask for assistance or proceed to the nearest enclosed stairwell (one that has doors at every entrance) and wait for the emergency personnel to arrive. The Fire Department and University Police will attempt to check all areas, including restrooms, to communicate the need to evacuate. Individuals with disabilities should immediately notify UHPD at 713-743-3333 or 9-1-1 if they are unable to evacuate as directed in an emergency situation.

Enclosed building stairwells have a higher fire resistive rating. To aid protection, ensure the door to the stairwell is tightly closed, as open doors will allow smoke and possibly fire into the stairwell. Someone may stay with the person requiring assistance if it does not place them in additional danger and if another person is able to meet responding emergency personnel to report the location of those in the stairwell. If you cannot get to an enclosed stairwell, follow the instructions below for being trapped.

SHELTER IN PLACE

Individuals should shelter in place during some emergencies, including weather events, and hazardous material releases. Individuals who are unable to get to an enclosed stairwell during an evacuation should also shelter in place. Directions for how to best shelter in place for each of these scenarios are available on the Be Prepared website.

ASSISTING INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE DISABILITIES

In an emergency, community members should assist individuals with disabilities in the following ways:

  • Ensure that the individual is aware of the emergency and that they know what to do.
  • Inform deaf/hard-of-hearing persons of the emergency individually; do not assume that they know what is happening by watching others.
  • Before attempting to offer assistance, always ask an individual who has a disability how you can best assist them, and whether there are any items that they need to come with them. Once in a safe place ask them if there is anyone they would like contacted.
  • You may assist in evacuating individuals with disabilities if it does not place you in personal danger. Note: non-emergency personnel should never attempt to carry anyone down the stairs.
  • Assist blind/visually impaired individuals by assisting them to safety. Ask the individual needing assistance to hold your arm as you guide them.
  • Assist individuals who are unable to use the stairs by guiding them to an enclosed stairwell (one that is separated from the main building area by doors). Close the doors to the stairwell tightly and notify emergency personnel of the individual's location (UHPD 713-743-3333). You should stay with the person requiring assistance if it does not place you in danger and if there is another person able to meet emergency personnel to report the location of the individuals in the stairwell.