Considerations When Comparing Emergency Evacuation Chairs
When shopping for an emergency evacuation device you should consider the issues listed below when comparing products.
Descent-speed Governing Mechanism
Emergency evacuation chairs must have a mechanical speed governor and tracks with rugged treads that limit the maximum speed of descent regardless of the operating environment. Heat, cold or water on the stairway or on the tracks can all affect the friction between rubber and other surfaces. The device must be designed with speed control or with controlled speed regardless of the conditions.
Stability on Flat Surfaces
It may be necessary to leave a passenger unattended momentarily while opening a door or clearing debris. A second attendant is not always available and it is important the unit remain stable in such an instance.
Passengers won't always be calm, conscious or have control of their arms, legs or head. The device must be designed so the passenger can be secured safely regardless of their condition.
Stability on Stairs
It may be necessary to stop on stairs to allow stairway traffic to pass, or to clear an obstruction. Though this practice is not recommended, the unit must be capable of remaining parked and stable on the stairway during this period.
Weight of Unit
The weight of the device is not a major factor in the evacuation process, since the unit should never be carried up stairs and into an emergency situation. Strength, reliability and other factors, as described above, are more important considerations. Emergency preparedness requires descent devices be present in sufficient numbers on or above the floor from which the building evacuation would take place.
Ease of Transfer
A successful building evacuation decreases if multiple people are required to assist each evacuee. The emergency evacuation chair must be designed for use by one person, with that one person being able to single-handedly transfer the passenger and take the passenger down the stairs. The device must be designed to be low and stable, open on both sides, and will not roll or move during transfer. Typically, a person with a limited mobility should be able to transfer themselves easily from their wheelchair to the evacuation device.
Strength Required to Operate
It may not always be possible to have an attendant who is strong enough to lift the passenger, yet that attendant may at times be the only person available to perform the building evacuation. As much as possible, the design of the device must take this fact into consideration, and not require excessive physical strength to operate.
The device must take into consideration the fact that many disabled persons are more prone to injury and must be handled more carefully than most able-bodied people.
Following the emergency descent, and depending on the reason for the emergency evacuation, the building may not be able to be entered for ½ hour or more. During this time the passenger being evacuated must be able to wait, comfortably, for their wheelchair to be returned to them. The design of an emergency evacuation chair must take this into consideration.
The design of the device must consider the potential weight of a disabled person and must be designed to carry up to 400 lbs. Since it will be used on stairs, the device's weight capacity must contain a safety margin of at least 1.5 times its rated capacity.