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Guide for Individuals with Disabilities in an Emergency

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Individuals with disabilities requiring assistance during an emergency should take the time to develop a personal evacuation plan and should consider the following information when creating this plan:

  • Create a plan to shelter-in-place and a plan to get away depending on the type of emergency and your location (academic setting or residence);
  • Ensure your contact information and any alternate means of communicating information (e.g., email, phone/text, etc.) are up-to-date;
  • Program Stanford's emergency hotline (650-725-5555) into your cell phone;
  • Consider arranging a buddy system with a friend or colleague who can alert you of an emergency, knows your schedule, can check with you, and/or assist you as needed;
  • Know if emergency evacuation chairs are available in your building and be able to instruct others in how to operate as needed;
  • Consider wearing medical alert tags to inform others of pertinent health conditions to be aware of in an emergency;
  • Assemble a kit of emergency supplies necessary to self sustain for at least three days (e.g., water, non-perishable food, first aid kit, medication, etc.);
  • Label your adaptive equipment with your current contact information;
  • Consider your service animal or pet in your planning as needed;
  • Show others how to operate your wheelchair or other assistive devices;
  • Be able to clearly articulate your needs to emergency personnel and/or others providing volunteer assistance;
  • If you require life-sustaining medical treatment (e.g., dialysis, home health care, etc.), identify the availability of a location near campus;
  • Identify primary and secondary ways to evacuate campus facilities, including classrooms, labs, work areas, recreational facilities, libraries and residences (noting Areas of Refuge/stairwells);
  • Become familiar with the Emergency Assembly Point (EAP) of buildings you frequent and note the accessible path of travel (note alternate pathways as well);
  • Communicate your plan with campus emergency coordinators, including your preference for assistance during an evacuation;
  • Advocate for yourself; and
  • Practice your personal evacuation plan frequently and revise it as necessary.


If an emergency strikes, everyone must take appropriate and deliberate action – dial 911 for emergency assistance. Contact Stanford's emergency hotline (650-725-5555) for the most up-to-date information. If assistance is available, ask for help if you need it. 


  • Create a safe space for yourself;
  • Do not try to immediately get out of the building as you could sustain injuries from falling debris;
  • Move to a safe location such as an interior wall or in a doorway and stay away from windows, unsecured furniture or heavy items that could fall or tip over;
  • Lock your wheelchair;
  • Cover your head and/or protect yourself as best as possible;
  • Do not at attempt to transfer from your wheelchair or bed until shaking has stopped; and
  • Once the shaking has stopped, check yourself for injury, look for hazards, and decide if it is safe to evacuate or remain where you are until emergency personnel arrive.


  • If you are on the first floor, evacuate the building on your own or with assistance as needed;
  • If on upper floors, proceed to the Area of Refuge or stairwell;
  • Inform your supervisor, building manager, or colleague that you will remain in that place of safety and wait for assistance to be evacuated or for emergency personnel to arrive;
  • Never open doors that are too hot;
  • Request assistance with being carried down in your wheelchair or transfer to an evacuation chair if available; and
  • Report to the building's designated Emergency Assembly Point (EAP) and await further instructions.