Whilst there are limited publications available in Australia that provide guidance for people with disabilities or older Australians, there are a number of good references in the USA, which are provided below:
For the millions of Americans who have physical, medical, sensory or cognitive disabilities, emergencies such as fires, floods and acts of terrorism present a real challenge. The same challenge also applies to the elderly and other special needs populations. Protecting yourself and your family when disaster strikes requires planning ahead. This booklet will help you get started. Discuss these ideas with your family, friends and/or your personal care attendant, or anyone else in your support network and prepare an emergency plan. Post the plan where everyone will see it, keep a copy with you and make sure everyone involved in your plan has a copy.
NFPA Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities
The NFPA Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities has been developed with input from the disability community to provide general information on this important topic. In addition to providing information on the five general categories of disabilities (mobility impairments, visual impairments, hearing impairments, speech impairments, and cognitive impairments), the Guide outlines the four elements of evacuation information that occupants need: notification, way finding, use of the way, and assistance. Also included is a Personal Emergency Evacuation Planning Checklist that building services managers and people with disabilities can use to design a personalized evacuation plan. The annexes give government resources and text based on the relevant code requirements and ADA criteria.
Federal Emergency Management Agency 2002, FEMA FA 235 Orientation Manual for First Responders on the Evacuation of People with Disabilities
People with Disabilities: Three months after terrorist attacks redefined American life, most of the country’s 54 million citizens with disabilities said that they did not feel sufficiently prepared for future crises. According to Harris Interactive survey results released by The National Organization on Disability (N.O.D.):
• 58 percent of people with disabilities say they do not know who to contact about emergency plans for their community in the event of a terrorist attack or other crisis.
• 61 percent say that they have not made plans to evacuate their homes quickly and safely.
First Responders: It is incumbent on first responders to learn how best to perform a rescue using equipment and procedures that facilitate safe evacuation for any person with a disability.
Federal Emergency Management Agency 1999, FA-206 1999 Fire Risks for the Blind or Visually Impaired
Blind or visually impaired people are faced with many challenges, not the least of which is personal safety. Interaction with an environment one cannot see creates potential health and safety hazards. As a result, blind or visually impaired people are at increased risk of injury and death in the event of a fire. Depending on the severity of vision loss, they may be more likely to ignite a fire accidentally through common household activities, while they are less likely to extinguish or escape one. Further, a blind or visually impaired individual is highly vulnerable to sustaining burns by attempting to suppress a small fire.
Federal Emergency Management Agency 1999, FA-204 1999 Fire Risks for the Mobility Impaired
People with mobility impairments are faced with many challenges in life. Personal safety, especially fire safety, is one challenge that many perceive as an obstacle. It does not have to be this way. By being aware of one’s own special capabilities and following fire safety practices tailored to certain needs, the mobility-impaired person can lead a fire-safe life.
Mainstream fire safety education and fire protection devices are designed primarily with the able-bodied person in mind. Thus a scarcity of fire safety knowledge exists within both the mobility-impaired community and the fire service. Both groups must work to educate each other to decrease fire-related losses and injuries.
Federal Emergency Management Agency 1999, FA-202 1999 Fire Risks for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Fire safety is a much overlooked problem among people who are deaf or hard of hearing. They do not receive the same media, educational, or industry attention as does the hearing population. Many advancements in the prevention of fire injury and death over the past century have not addressed the fire safety needs of the deaf community. The most significant of those inventions is the audible smoke alarm. Smoke alarms have been credited with saving thousands of lives from fires each year. Conventional alarms, however, work less well for those who cannot hear. Additionally, traditional fire safety messages do not address the unique needs of the deaf community. Fire safety messages more than likely will not reach this population due to the lack of effective distribution channels.
Federal Emergency Management Agency 1999, FA-203 1999 Fire Risks for the Older Adult
Older adults represent one of the highest fire risk populations in the United States. As a result of progressive degeneration in physical, cognitive, and emotional capabilities, older adults present unique challenges in the fields of fire protection, prevention, and safety. Complications associated with aging increase the likelihood that an elderly person will accidentally start a fire and at the same time reduce his or her chances of surviving it. As the nation’s elderly population grows, the fire death toll will likely rise in direct proportion to that growth unless measures are taken to ameliorate the risks associated with this group. The fire safety community must address the fire safety needs of older adults or be faced with the potential for a severe public health problem.