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Emergency Preparedness For Persons with a Disability

Emergency preparedness is about being ready for what happens, learning from our experiences, and preparing better for the next event. It takes ongoing effort from all of us to create and sustain an effective emergency preparedness program. You are your own best first responder—please use the resources found on the website for the Office of Emergency Management and Business Continuity along with the information below as a resource to better understand your role in emergency preparedness at the University of Maryland, and how you can become part of and contribute to our preparedness community.

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Planning: what to do before and during an emergency

Develop a personal emergency plan.

Every individual is encouraged to think through developing 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. Each individual should:

  • Always be aware of your exact location

  • Know where the nearest exit and fire alarm are located.

  • Develop a communication plan that includes:
    • Having the campus 911 or 301-405-3333 number programmed in your phone

    • Make sure you are receiving alerts from the UMD Alert System

    • Be ready to inform emergency personnel of your exact location

  • Determine what will be needed to shelter in place
    • An emergency preparedness kit. Things it might include:
      • 1-2 days of medications

      • 1-2 days of medical supplies

      • Back up power supply for any battery powered devices

      • Food for a service animal

    • Allergen-free food items

    • Bottled water

    • Mask

  • Identify an accessible evacuation route
    • Determine if you will need assistance evacuating

    • Identify at least two assistants who are willing and able to provide you with assistance during an emergency. The assistants should be a friend who is likely to be in the same building at a similar time frame as you. Make sure to be specific about what type of assistance you will need.

    • In the event you cannot evacuate safely, independently or with assistance, identify the safest location/areas of refuge (i.e. where you can await assistance from emergency personnel). For more information on evacuation assistance and areas of refuge, please see the section below.

If evacuation assistance is desired, it is suggested that you:

  • Self-request assistance from two friends or colleagues at the locations you frequently visit. Indicate what type of assistance you are requesting. If physical exertion is needed, ask the buddies to verify they are physically able to assist you without harming themselves.

  • Familiarize yourself with the buildings you frequent. Practice using each of the possible evacuation routes. Check for obstacles, if possible. Remember: smoke, debris, flooding, loss of electricity, or other impediments may be present. Elevators are not safe to use for fire evacuations.

  • If you are unable to evacuate the building, seek a location that provides refuge, when possible. Call 911 or 301-405-3333 for emergency evacuation assistance. Inform another evacuee of your location. Possibilities for refuge areas:
    • Enclosed stairwells that do not impede evacuation progress

    • An adjoining building behind fire doors

    • An office with a closed door, located a safe distance from the hazard

    • Exit balconies or corridors

    • A designated area of refuge where available

    • Report to your designated assembly area

  • Notify emergency responders immediately about your location and condition in the building.

Make sure to practice your evacuation plan. This is the best way to discover unanticipated issues and solve them before—instead of during—an emergency.

General Tips for Community Members

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

  • Ensure that the individual is aware of the emergency. Inform persons who are Deaf and hard of hearing 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 with a disability how you can best assist them and whether there are any special considerations that should be made or items that need to come with them.

  • You may assist in evacuating individuals with disabilities if it does not place you in personal danger.

  • Assist individuals who are unable to use the stairs by guiding them to a location that provides refuge and notifying 911 of the individual's location.

  • If on the ground floor, most people with disabilities will be able to exit safely without assistance. However, it is important to verify that individuals using any kind of assistive device are capable of successfully leaving the building unassisted, via emergency routes.

Tips for Evacuation Assistance Buddies

Tips for individuals with disabilities