When Considering Aging in Place consider an Evacuation Plan
An evacuation plan is simply knowing how to get out of your home in the event of an emergency. It is a smart and practical exercise for any family or individual regardless of age, but it does provide some added planning as we age.
That planning usually involves our reduction in speed and mobility as we age and plans that included climbing out emergency ladders or out of windows are not necessarily first order business.
Think of the three pillars of emergency egress, now known as egressibility, those of notification, wayfinding and egress.
Notification is essentially your alarm systems, be them built into the home (as mandated by law), your home technology/monitoring systems, your smart phone or other support mechanisms like neighbours and family. If you live in a communal setting, it is imperative that you know and understand how you will be notified in the event of an evacuation order. If you need extra support, please discuss your own PEEP (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan) with your building’s management. You and others should be included in any planning through management and local first responders.
Wayfinding is your way of being able to quickly identify and move to safe areas and out of your home. These need to be planned and practiced in a single-family dwelling and again become more important when you live in a multi-occupant/multi-floor dwelling. Ensure that there is emergency lighting and that pathways are clear of any major obstacles. Ensure that exits are not blocked and can be easily utilized for escape.
If you live in a single-family dwelling, the planning is up to you and your household members. This means that understanding where all safety equipment is kept including fire extinguishers, flashlights, and escape tools. It means discussing or understanding your escape routes, practicing your plan and making sure you have alternatives to that plan should an escape route be blocked.
If you need extra assistance by means of evacuation device such as Safety-Chairs, (www.everyoneout.ca) then these should be in place and practiced. The need to negotiate stairs in a multi-floor dwelling is more crucial and again your PEEP needs to be addressed by those who will be assisting you in your egress.
Everyone Out! and egressibility is not a new concept, those living with limited mobility have often worried about how their own safety would be addressed in many circumstances or locations. The concept is now getting more notoriety and awareness and is just now putting those concepts into reality.