A life safety plan sets out how building occupants will be alerted to an emergency situation and evacuated from a building or public space. It’s specific to a particular location and it must address the needs of everyone who uses or may use the space or building.
When developing a life safety plan, consider the needs of people with vision loss. All people who have vision loss and are working in a new space within a building should be informed about the location of emergency exits and practice identifying them on their first day.
Life safety plans should be made available in alternative formats such as accessible electronic documents, large-print or braille. These documents should be updated as often as necessary to ensure that documents in alternative formats are current with the print versions of the life safety plan.
For commercial tenants, the alternative format materials should be made available to people with vision loss immediately upon joining an organization. In residential settings, these documents should be made available with tenant or condominium agreements.
Building attendants, security guards, reception staff and event hosts should receive regular training on how best to assist someone with vision loss in an emergency.
Instructions about the location of emergency exits should be part of the routine when greeting people with vision loss who are visiting a facility or attending a meeting in it.
Fire wardens in a building should be provided with training on how to inform people who are deafblind of an emergency. One commonly used method is to trace an “X” on the person’s back using your finger. This will inform a person who is deafblind that an emergency situation exists and that the information provider will lead them to an area of safety. Each warden should receive training on how to act as a sighted guide for a person with vision loss.
The life safety plan for public buildings should include the following documents, which should be available by request in print, braille, audio and electronic text formats:
- A tactile floor plan (i.e., showing where fire protection and emergency features are located on each floor) prominently displayed and placed near elevators, building directories or at the building’s main entrance.
- A statement of life safety policies.
- A description of evacuation procedures.
- A description of evacuation procedures for people with vision loss who are regularly in the building.
- A description of the responsibilities of building staff and other occupants of the building in an emergency situation, including specific instructions on how to assist people with vision loss.
- A copy of applicable fire safety regulations.
- A description of the established “buddy system.”
The life safety plan should be supported by these activities:
- Distribution of relevant parts of the life safety plan to all occupants of the building in alternative formats.
- Training of life safety officers on how to assist in evacuation of the building and how to act as a sighted guide for building occupants with vision loss.
- Posting of evacuation procedure signage on each floor in print, tactile and braille formats.
- Regular checking and maintenance of life safety systems, including alarm systems, emergency lighting, emergency communications systems and obstruction-free evacuation routes.
- Regular review of emergency procedures through the use of practice drills.
- Provision of orientation and mobility training around emergency exits for building occupants with vision loss on a routine basis.