Always ask someone with a disability how you can help before giving assistance or attempting any rescue technique. Ask how that person can best be assisted or moved and whether there are any special considerations or items that need to come with the person, such as respirators, mobility aids, medications, or other equipment.

Visual Impairments

Give verbal instructions that direct the individuals to the safest route or direction. Use compass or clock directions, estimated distances, and directional terms. Do not grasp a visually impaired person’s arm. Ask if he or she would like to hold onto your arm as you exit, especially if there is debris or a crowd. As you walk, tell the individual where you are and the location of any obstacles. When you have reached safety, orient the person as to where you are. If you leave the person after reaching safety, make sure that he or she knows his or her current location and how to reach the next desired location.

Hearing Impairments

Alarms are equipped with strobes that flash in the event of an emergency. Persons with hearing impairments may not notice or hear emergency alarms and will need visual cues to be alerted of emergency situations. Clearly identify the emergency and the need to evacuate the building. Gestures and pointing are helpful, but be prepared to write a brief statement if the person does not seem to understand. Offer visual instructions to direct the person to the safest route or direction by pointing toward exits or evacuation maps.

Mobility Impairments

It may be necessary to help clear an exit route of debris (if possible) so that a person with mobility impairment can move to a safer area. Persons who are able to walk independently may be able to negotiate stairs in an emergency with minor assistance. Assess the situation and consider whether you should wait until heavy traffic has cleared before attempting to use a stairway.

All individuals on the first floor of the building should immediately leave the building using the nearest safe exit.


All college departments can call the Office of Environmental Health and Safety to obtain fire safety and emergency evacuation training. Students shall receive fire safety and evacuation information during orientation. Practice should instill confidence in one’s ability to cope in an emergency while ensuring that appropriate lifesaving actions will be taken during an actual emergency. Response preparedness may consist of walk-throughs, table-top training exercises, and unannounced drills.