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Old 08-12-2011, 06:30 PM   #1
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Unhappy Hi-Rises + Fire Drills = Stairs, Stairs, Stairs

This fall, the office in which I work will move to a higher floor in our building. Im okay with the 10 flights that we currently walk down during fire drills, but the idea of 34 flights has me more than a little anxious.

Working on general fitness and such will help, but that's a long-term strategy. How do you fellow hi-rise workers cope in the here-and-now with hundreds of stairs? Do you turn to special exercises, protective braces, or more careful ways of positioning your knees as you descend?
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Old 08-12-2011, 07:05 PM   #2
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I have the same problem - working in a high rise. When there's a fire drill, my company, the owners of the building, and the fire department have a list of people who physically cannot navigate stairs. Firefighters coming into the building know to look for those people on the landings of their various floors. I'm on that list. I don't have to actually go downstairs during fire drills, just stand on the landing.
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Old 08-12-2011, 08:06 PM   #3
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I have the same problem - working in a high rise. When there's a fire drill, my company, the owners of the building, and the fire department have a list of people who physically cannot navigate stairs. Firefighters coming into the building know to look for those people on the landings of their various floors. I'm on that list. I don't have to actually go downstairs during fire drills, just stand on the landing.
It's the same for my wife where she works. She's on "the list". If there's an actual fire and the elevators can't be used, the firefighters are supposed to carry her down the stairs (along with anyone in a wheelchair, for example). But the one time her building actually had a small fire, they kept one elevator in operation for the firefighters, and they let her ride down in it. Cynthia, talk to your boss or the building manager about your situation.
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Old 08-13-2011, 01:23 AM   #4
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Cynthia & other DIMMERS who might need help (myself included),

This is very important to your safety and others in the building. If you think or know you can't navigate the stairs during a drill or an emergency, tell the authorities ahead of time. You might also be temporarily "gimped" up during knee surgery or recovery from an accident. Also, consider that during a real fire emergency, the stairwell may very well be filled with smoke. It may be hard to see inside and hard to breath. So, breathing problems may also be a need for assistance.

Why is it important to others' safety in the building? When you slow down, have trouble walking down stairs, or fall and block part of the path of exit - you can very well create chain reaction behind you (sort of like a car slowing and stopping on the freeway.) People can get blocked and start to fall and pile up behind you. This can start a panic that can turn nasty and result in additional deaths in the stairwells. It is not something I would want cast as my fault


But, there is also danger in riding elevators in building fires. If the doors open at the wrong time on a floor that is on fire you will be in great danger. The same thing would happen if the elevator stopped working and stuck on the wrong floors or if fire entered the elevator shaft.

Also, the firemen (or women) need the elevators 'cause it saves them from using up the air in their respirator air tanks having to climb stairs. They can then stay in the building a little longer and do their job a little better.
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Old 08-13-2011, 08:19 AM   #5
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Last year, I had an appt. on the 27th floor of a building when the fire alarm went off. We heard reports of a definite blaze, and I ran down 27 flights. I was able to do it. I will say that the fear of a real fire v. a drill will put the fear of god into you and you might well have more ability than you realize.

A fat friend of mine started going to the gym right after 9/11 b/c she watched the coverage of people evacuating and thought: i'm not able to do that. i would've died in those towers. it can be very motivating. My friend built up her stamina by walking slowly on a treadmill. Eventually she was able to walk for 5 minutes and then do a slow jog for a minute and then on and on over a few months 'til she was actually jogging.

I would think that working on walking would help strengthen legs muscles, which would help overall in keeping you alive in a real emergency. One of the trainers at my gym says that an exercise helpful for older people who are trying to strengthen their quad (leg) muscles is simply getting up from the sofa. He suggests sitting on the edge, and getting up, sitting down, getting up, sitting down, etc. It's your quads that feel a lot of the stress of stairs, so those are good muscles to work. I'd recommend doing exercise for a specific amount of time several times a day every single day.

If, god forbid, your life ever depends on your mobility, you'll be glad you did your best to prepare.
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Old 08-13-2011, 11:35 AM   #6
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If you do think you will have a little trouble climbing down down the exit stairs, keep an appropriate pair of walking or climbing shoes in or immediately near your desk. Climbing stairs in heels or flip flops could result in trauma by getting your toes stepped on or turning your ankle and stopping your descent. If you have trouble climbing down stairs, be sure and hold the handrails provided. Don't carry anything down with you. Saving your life is important enough. Leave the purse, ipod, sweater, pictures, on your desk. You can get them back later.

(For hotel travelers - don't get a room in high floors if you can't climb down the stairs in the middle of the night in an emergency. Make them put you on lower floors and near the exit or near the elevator.) Also, making sure the fire supression system (overhead sprinklers, etc.) is present and works. Also, working smoke detectors add to the total protection package.
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Old 08-14-2011, 01:30 PM   #7
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Thanks, moore2me, Jes, musicman, and BigBeautifulMe. You brought up a lot of good safety suggestions and considerations that will help everybody here on the boards. It just occurred to me.... Although I take group classes and never really use the machines at the Y, I could make an appointment with one of the exercise physiologists. They'd probably be able to come up with a good strength training plan for that purpose.

Appreciate the advice, folks!
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Old 08-14-2011, 09:00 PM   #8
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Years ago I was offered a job working in a famous building for a Japanese bank. They needed someone right away and was willing to throw in a lot of perks including Town car service door to door (I lived in NJ at the time) very high salary, bonuses, extra vacation time and as much OT as I wanted but I turned it down because I was afraid of being so high up (I'm try to remember the floor--maybe high 80s). My family was very upset with me that I didn't take the job but I had no peace about it. I don't regret my decision. It was at the WTC.
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:00 PM   #9
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Years ago I was offered a job working in a famous building for a Japanese bank. They needed someone right away and was willing to throw in a lot of perks including Town car service door to door (I lived in NJ at the time) very high salary, bonuses, extra vacation time and as much OT as I wanted but I turned it down because I was afraid of being so high up (I'm try to remember the floor--maybe high 80s). My family was very upset with me that I didn't take the job but I had no peace about it. I don't regret my decision. It was at the WTC.
All I can say is Wow! The thought of you working there brings chills all over me.
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Old 08-15-2011, 10:25 AM   #10
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Years ago I was offered a job working in a famous building for a Japanese bank. They needed someone right away and was willing to throw in a lot of perks including Town car service door to door (I lived in NJ at the time) very high salary, bonuses, extra vacation time and as much OT as I wanted but I turned it down because I was afraid of being so high up (I'm try to remember the floor--maybe high 80s). My family was very upset with me that I didn't take the job but I had no peace about it. I don't regret my decision. It was at the WTC.
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Old 08-15-2011, 11:52 AM   #11
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Many buildings have evacuation chairs for people with mobility issues. The idea is that four able-bodied coworkers will carry the person with mobility issues down the stairs. Obviously there will be problems if the mobility issues are weight related. I know of one office building were the plan is for the office fire marshals (all relatively small women) to carry a 700 pound coworker down the stairs -- its only a two story building but its just not going to work.

At a local hospital I saw an alternative. Its sort of a rescue sled (stored near the stairs) into which the person to be evacuated in strapped and basically slid rather than carried down the stairs. Seems this apparatus would make it possible to evacuate a supersize person with much less manpower.
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