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Evacuation Preparation

Determine in advance your nearest exit and emergency evacuation route. Establish an alternative way out in case the nearest exit is blocked or unsafe.

Note that it may or may not be wise to exit during an emergency. If the hazard is outdoors, it may be safer to stay put (See: Shelter in Place and Secure in Place procedure) or just move to another part of the building. Or if the hazard is apt to be short-lived and health and safety risks are low (ex: power outage), evacuations may not be necessary. If there is a fire, leave immediately. Emergency response personnel may advise you which to do – evacuate or shelter-in-place – but if they don’t, let common sense be your guide.

During an Evacuation

If time and conditions permit, secure your workplace and take with you important personal items such as your keys, purse, medication, or eye glasses.

  • Follow instructions from emergency personnel (fire, law enforcement, medical, etc.).
  • Check doors for heat before opening. Do not open a door if it feels hot.
  • Exit the building as calmly and quickly as possible using the nearest safe exit.  DO NOT USE ELEVATORS, unless specifically advised to do so by emergency personnel.
  • WALK – DO NOT RUN. Do not push or crowd.
  • Use handrails in stairwells, and stay to the right.
  • Assist people with disabilities.
  • Move quickly away from the building.
  • Head to your assembly point, unless otherwise instructed.
  • Watch for falling glass and other debris.
  • Keep roadways and walkways clear for emergency vehicles.
  • If you have relocated away from the building, DO NOT RETURN until notified that it is safe to do so.

Evacuation of Individuals with Special Needs

Students, Faculty and Staff with limitations who need assistance during an evacuation should contact the JMU Police Department at 540-568-6911. Advise the dispatcher of the specific type of assistance needed in order for them to provide the appropriate type of resource(s).    

How to Assist Persons With:

Impaired vision - Most visually impaired persons will be familiar with their immediate work area. In an emergency situation:

  • Announce the type of emergency.
  • Offer your arm for guidance.
  • Tell the person where you are going, obstacles you encounter.
  • When you reach safety, ask if further help is needed.

Alert Hearing Impaired - Because persons with impaired hearing may not perceive emergency alarms, an alternative way to warn them is required.

  • Turn lights on/off to gain the person’s attention, or
  • Indicate through gestures what is happening and what to do.
  • Write a note with specific evacuation directions.

Persons using crutches, canes, or walkers

  • Evacuate these individuals as injured persons.
  • Assist and accompany to evacuation site if possible, or
  • Use a sturdy chair (or one with wheels) to move the person, or
  • Help carry the individual to safety.

Evacuate wheelchair users - If immediate evacuation is necessary, be aware of the following considerations:

  • Non-ambulatory persons’ needs and preferences vary. Individuals at ground-floor locations may exit without help. Others have minimal ability to move. Remember: lifting may be dangerous to you or to them.
  • In a life-threatening emergency, it may be necessary to remove an individual from the wheelchair. Lifting a person with minimal ability to move may be dangerous.
  • Normally, wheelchairs should not be taken down stairs. Consult with the person to determine the best carry options, and reunite the person with the chair as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Wheelchairs are awkward and have movable parts. Some of them are not designed to withstand stress or lifting.

Do not put yourself or others in danger. If you cannot safely evacuate people, get them to a stairwell or other easily identified “Area of Rescue Assistance” location and notify emergency responders as soon as possible of the individuals’ situations and location.

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