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Everybody Out!

The senior’s living landscape has been shaken in recent times through the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there will always be a need for those loved ones with extended needs to be in a complete care environment. With that in mind there has been more focus presented as to the emergency preparedness of our national seniors’ living centres and care homes and their vulnerable occupants.

As this new focus emerges and as the new Accessibility Canada Act of 2019 becomes more affluent, our society’s will to change our physical barriers to be inclusive of all becomes strengthened. This has meant that the number of consultants, planners, advocates and specialists has increased. Each profession with their own personal experience allowing for their knowledge to be an important part of a project or plan. However, in our everyday work we do see a repeated lack of consideration when it comes to emergency preparedness for those with physical limitations.

Our zest to remove barriers and utilize technology in the form of automation and lifts can sometime blind us to the logistical boundaries that occur when a building becomes under stress.

Lifts shut down; barriers are closed when there is an evacuation order.

If not prepared to included everyone in a General Emergency Evacuation Plan (GEEP) then a Personal Evacuation Plan (PEEP) needs to be addressed by those you know will be in the building at any time…it does stand to reason that there will be visitors or unforeseen events that brings someone’s mobility into question. In which case there has to be some part of the GEEP that will consider moving those people away from danger.

There are many incidences besides the planned fire drills where a building needs to be evacuated; fire, smoke, gas leak, terrorist threat, flood, earthquake, power outages…each demanding that everyone is removed from harm.

When planning for accessibility, please consider not only the obvious but look for the worse case and plan as best you can and ensure that everyone who goes in, must come out!


Jim Closs has been helping people up and down stairs for 30 years