A 'how to' guide on emergency plans and disabilities

2nd Dec 15

Having an emergency plan is place is a great idea for any family, but what if a friend or family member has a disability or requires special care? There are a number of things to take into consideration when creating or altering an emergency plan to suit, so that everyone will be safe in case an emergency or disaster strikes.

Case in point is the recent 82,500 hectare fires north of Adelaide which left two people dead and 87 properties destroyed. With an emergency plan in place, it’s an insurance policy for your disabled loved one to be able to keep safe and know where to head, or how to contact family and support, in the event of a disaster or event.

So what should you consider in terms of an Emergency Plan?



It’s always good to have an extra walker, cane, wheelchair or pair of crutches on hand. However, particularly for those in manual or power wheelchairs, plans need to be made as to what will happen if the chair can no longer be used or how to get to certain evacuation areas. Plan ahead and map out where to go in certain events. If you have to leave the area, make sure a trusted contact will be able to look after you and store mobility devices with them.


Access in homes and out

Have an evacuation plan for homes that detail how to get out of a house in an emergency, such as exiting if there’s a fire, or where to duck and cover if there’s an earthquake. List different exits and how to get to them. Can someone with mobility issues use all of the exits? Consider placing mobility lifts at both ends of a house, near or next to traditional stairs.

If a person can’t use a mobility lift if there’s a power cut, can they still use or have help to use stairs? If you’ve got Vestner lifts in your home, rest assured that a backup battery will allow the lift to remain powered and ready to use (15 to 20 travels) if a power cut disables the main source of power at the outlet.

When away from home, familiarise yourself with the available exit options, or make someone aware of the needs of the person you’re travelling with.



If you’re the primary carer of someone with a disability, put a plan in place so that if you’re apart, you can get to them or someone can care for that person while you’re away. Make sure the contact is a trusted friend or family member that will be able to give the correct care, which may mean prior training and planning. Don’t forget to incorporate a backup plan – just in case, and always carry your cell phone. It’s a good idea to have a backup phone too.

The issue with communication in the event of an emergency will be the load on the networks, and if these are even available. Be sure to include a solar battery charger that can be utilised to power your phone if electricity availability is limited or may take days to resurrect.


Vestner lifts and safety in the Christchurch Earthquakes

Vestner operate within Christchurch, New Zealand, and because of their quality and workmanship, their lift products in the event of an emergency were able to ‘save the day’. In 2010 and 2011, Christchurch was riddled with ongoing earthquakes, with the most ‘disastrous’ being that on 22 February 2011. The Earthquake claimed 185 lives, another 164 seriously injured and 1,500-2,000 injured. It was noted as New Zealand’s second deadliest natural disaster behind the Napier Earthquake of 1931.

During the 2011 Earthquake, Margaret Downs was what she believed, stranded in her home after the earthquake had struck. With Margaret being wheelchair bound, she and her husband had installed a Vestner lift (Pandect) previously to help improve Margaret’s independence and ability to access her home. With minor damage to the home and power cuts to the majority of Christchurch and the surrounding suburbs, Margaret was still able to access the lift, and make her way down to the ground  level to escape out into the street and meet at the designated point outside her house that her and her husband had previously discussed.

With the knowledge that the Vestner lift can utilise a back-up battery for scenarios like this (for up to 15-20 travels), the lift is a key component of the escape and emergency plan for Margaret when her husband isn’t present at home to support her.


It’s important to keep everyone safe during an emergency or disaster, and including everyone’s needs in your emergency plan will make sure of that. Prior planning and preparation will prevent problems. How have you altered your emergency plan? Tell us about it in a comment below.


Filed under Residential Lifts

Written by

As National Sales and Operations Manager, Mark’s role includes building and maintaining business relationships, and managing and overseeing larger projects, all while keeping a watchful eye out for business opportunities.  Having a background in the health and disability sector provides Mark with the necessary understanding to assist clients when considering access solutions for people with mobility requirements.

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