When applying structural mitigation measures for protection from hazards, make sure the structure becomes or remains accessible following RECU principle: persons with any type of disability can Reach, Enter, Circulate and Use facilities in a continuous movement (e.g., without facing barriers).
Specifically, take into account the following accessibility considerations:
- Make sure pathways leading to the main entrance of the building are accessible and cleared from obstacles.
- Install a ramp for the main entrance.
- Install handrails on ramps, walkways and stairs to provide support and safety.
- Ensure that openings (e.g. doorways) are at least 90 cm wide, for a wheelchair to pass through.
- Colour entrances in contrasting colour to make it easier for persons with visual impairment to identify them. (Painting in a contrasting colour can also make paths, ramps or other access ways more visible).
- Make sure that doors and windows are accessible for wheelchair users and easy to open and close for persons with physical disabilities.
- Ensure that space inside the building is wide enough to allow a wheelchair user to circulate and complete a full turn.
- Provide electrical lighting to increase accessibility and safety.
- If you’re establishing an underground safe room/storm shelter, make sure the pathway to the room and the room itself are accessible for persons with different types of disabilities.
- Apply other measures to increase the safety of the building, such as fastening furniture, removal or securing of projectiles, and avoiding sharp edges in hygiene areas.
When the built environment is compromised in a disaster, it can block exits. Furniture may become an obstacle or walls may shift, leaving exit doors difficult to open. These unanticipated obstacles greatly affect the ability of persons with disabilities or older persons to safely exit the building.
Simple measures to secure freestanding furniture, cupboards, bookcases, and similar items can reduce the possibility for injury and increase the potential for escape. Alternate evacuation plans must also be developed and practiced for mitigating the negative effect of barriers created when items fall and block egress.