Your Ultimate Guide To Emergency Evacuation Chairs
Are these mobility aids worth the investment? How do I guarantee value for my money? Will they keep both the patient and transporter safe from injury? This guide for home users and emergency personnel answers your questions.
All You Need to Know When Choosing an Evacuation Chair for Stairs
Whether you’re working as a First Responder or a caregiver, or help a loved one with mobility impairment around the home — emergency evacuation equipment is an essential part of your inventory. When a crisis strikes an emergency evacuation chair can help someone with a mobility impairment traverse stairs quickly, safely and easily. Thankfully, they’re also designed to minimize the risk of back strain or physical injury on the transporter — a godsend if you’re a First Responder using them multiple times per day. In this guide, we share everything you need to know about evacuation chairs: from unpacking why you’d need one even if you have a fixed or mobile stairlift, to tips that help you purchase a high quality model that’s value for your money.
Table of Contents
- Why a Regular Fixed or Mobile Stairlift Won’t Work in an Emergency
- Key Benefits of an Emergency Evacuation Chair
- How to Spot a High Quality Model
- Factors Influencing Emergency Evacuation Chair Prices
- Regulations You Need to Know About
- 8 Specs That Set the EZ Evacuation Chair Apart
Why a Regular Fixed Stair Lift Won’t Work in an Emergency
While a permanent or mobile stairlift is an excellent way for someone with a mobility impairment to traverse stairs on a daily basis, they’re not designed to function under the pressures of emergency situations. It’s easy to think that a mobile stairlift could double as your emergency evacuation chair, but here are 3 reasons it shouldn’t:
Evacuation chairs are lighter
The lighter evac chair is built for speed over comfort. It’s lighter than a mobile stairlift, and allows you to move faster in case of emergency. This saves you precious minutes when time is of the essence.
Evacuation chairs have additional safety features
Designed to provide a safer solution that is more efficient when transporting people down stairs during an emergency. When descending, let the tracks do the heavy lifting while assisting with a much faster controlled descent.
Evacuation chairs don’t rely on power to work
Whether your mobile stairlift’s batteries are running low or the power has gone out and rendered your permanent stairlift useless, emergencies are not the time to be stranded. Thankfully, evac chairs are designed to be manually operated, so they’ll work — no matter what!
Key Benefits of an Emergency Evacuation Chair
We’ve touched on 3 important reasons to invest in a specialized evacuation chair for stairs. However, there are plenty more benefits to having this piece of equipment on hand as part of your emergency stair evacuation procedures for people with disabilities. Here are our top reasons for recommending them over other evacuation alternatives:
Versatile during emergencies
With an evacuation chair on hand, you can easily move someone all the way from the top floor to the car or ambulance. There's no need for time-consuming or risky transfers en route.
Suitable for most staircases
Evacuation chairs are built to be safe, but compact. You’ll not have to wonder if you’ve got a wheelchair-friendly fire escape — they’re built to navigate almost every staircase. Say goodbye to awkward turns on tight landings or risky descents on steep stairs!
Quick and easy to deploy
Evacuation chairs are light enough to carry upstairs quickly while folded, and they’re easy to deploy. You also won’t need extensive emergency evacuation training before you can use one safely.
Reduces strain on transporters
Well-designed evacuation chairs evenly distribute their weight between two transporters. Some, like the Mobile Stairlift range, also come with a rubber track system that further lightens the load and reduces risk of transporter injury.
Easy to store
Evacuation chairs are extremely portable. They’ll fold up neatly and easily for storage in a closet, ambulance or fire truck. You’ll have them on hand when they’re needed, but otherwise be out of your way.
Available for personal or professional use
Get the chair that’s perfect for your needs. Some, like the EZ Evacuation Chair, are designed for daily use by First Responders. Others, like the EZ LITE Evacuation Chair are perfect as part of a home’s emergency preparedness inventory — for occasional use only.
How to Spot a High Quality Model
Whether you’re faced with daily crises as a First Responder, or just want a stand-by for once-off home use, whichever emergency evacuation chair you invest in has to be value for money. Keep your eye out for these 5 markers of quality to safeguard against a wasteful spend:
This badge of quality confirms that the chair you’re considering has been proven safe and effective for its intended use.
Dedicated Customer Service
Check whether the manufacturer has a dedicated customer service department that supports your region. A quality brand will have a team you can count on.
Online purchases can be risky. Evacuation chairs backed by a money-back guarantee offer peace of mind.
Warranty or Guarantee
A reputable manufacturer will prove their confidence in their product by attaching a reasonable warranty or guarantee to every purchase.
High Quality Manufacturing
Safe chairs are built from high quality, durable materials you can rely on during a crisis.
Factors Influencing Emergency Evacuation Chair Prices
Comparing evacuation chair makes and models is not a straightforward exercise. While they may look similar, they can differ vastly in price — and there's a good reason for that. Here are key factors affecting their prices:
Chairs made with higher quality materials typically cost more than their lower quality counterparts. As a result, they also last longer, ultimately offering better value for your money.
Additional safety and comfort-related features can push the price of a high quality chair up. Details such as a headrest, footrest and padded handle grips can add a bit to the cost, but vastly improve the experience of those using the chair.
An evacuation chair designed for daily use by emergency personnel has to be more robust, and therefore potentially more expensive than one meant for occasional use in a family home.
Cheaper products are less likely to be FDA approved, as they don’t need to pass the rigorous third-party testing that’s a prerequisite for this badge of quality. This puts you at risk of buying a chair that may be significantly cheaper, but is far less safe.
The maximum weight an evacuation chair model is designed to carry may influence the amount or types of materials used. This can increase the price of models intended for professional use, while keeping costs down for their occasional home use equivalents.
The lowest price tag isn’t always the best buy, and sometimes investing a little more is the best way to guarantee your safety — as a passenger and as a transporter. We unpack these points in a little more depth in ‘Factors Affecting Emergency Chair Prices’, and share tips that help you zero in on what you’re looking for.
Regulations You Need to Know About
Because you may not intend to use your chair very often, it’s easy to forget that their use (and whether you need one at all) may be governed by evacuation chair legislation or regulations. Which regulations you’re subject to (if any) depends on multiple factors including:
- Whether the chair is intended for home or professional medical use
- Whether you’re planning to use the chair as equipment in a general emergency preparedness plan for a public space, such as a hotel or museum
- Which state you reside in and/or intend to use the chair in
We can’t offer you legal advice but we strongly suggest you familiarize yourself with any possible laws and regulations that may affect your use of your chair, before you purchase. These could include:
- General emergency evacuation procedures, such as this guide by OSHA
- Guidelines specific to serving people with disabilities during an emergency, such as these guidelines from the US Department of Labor
- Regulations related specifically to evacuation equipment, such as the California Assembly Bill 3098 which requires all Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly in California to have an evacuation chair at each stairwell in case of emergency
8 Specs That Set the EZ Evacuation Chair Apart
1. Padded grip
- The upper control handle has a padded grip to reduce transporter strain and enhance control.
2. Locking lift handles
- The head end handle extends easily for upright lifting posture.
3. Anti-slip rubber tracks
- These are designed to safely support the patient while allowing the operator to control the speed of descent.
4. Dual wheel locks
- These eliminate the risk of the chair moving forward unintentionally when stopped.
5. Lower lift handles
- Ergonomic handles for two-operator descent maximize support and control.
6. Ankle restraints
- These provide added protection for both the patient and transporter.
- A top-rated safety belt supports the patient’s lower body while the chair is in use.
8. Secure headrest strap
- This provides patient head support in the event the patient needs to be steadied for evacuation.
Mobile Stairlift also offers the following with every purchase:
- Warranty. Get a limited lifetime warranty on the frame and 6 months on replacement parts.
- 7-Day Money Back Guarantee. If you’re not 100% satisfied with your EZ Evacuation Chair, we’ll give you your money back, no questions asked.
- Flexible Financing. Buy now and pay later, interest free.