An emergency evacuation plan is critical for surviving a disaster and minimising injuries and fatalities. An established emergency evacuation procedure is also a legal requirement for businesses to help save lives and minimise damage to property. It is an integral part of running and managing a company and must be implemented to ensure the safety of everyone in the building, whether they are employees or guests.
Why You Need an Emergency Evacuation Plan
Emergencies happen without warning and the only way to survive them is to be prepared. Whilst most people can probably manage an emergency without any assistance, it is the legal obligation of any business establishment to provide a safe means with which employees and guests can evacuate the building in the fastest way possible with minimal risk.
Creating a Plan for Emergency Evacuations
Emergency evacuation plans cover many different things, such as limits of occupancy, fire safety and maintenance, and how to escape from the building if and when necessary. Emergency evacuations are usually required for incidents such as fire, chemical leaks, bomb threats, explosions, terrorism, earthquakes and other natural disasters. The plan should be a clear list of instructions about what to do, where to go and why. To create the plan, here are the basic steps:
Survey the Environment.
Know and understand how the layout of the building works, including the area immediately outside the structure. Check where all the windows, doors, stairs and emergency exits are located, then make a note on a sketch of the building layout. Take note of any blockages that may prevent smooth and safe movement, such as equipment or furniture along a hallway, and trees or bushes that may block passage. Take note of anything that may be integral to the structure of the building and cannot be readily changed, such as interior pillars and walls, for example.
Keep the Layout Simple.
Emergency evacuations are highly stressful situations, so make sure the emergency evacuation layout or map is simple yet clear and easy to understand. Include only the most important elements in the map and highlight key areas such as emergency exits, first aid stations and locations of fire alarms and fire extinguishers.
Anyone looking at the layout must be able to identify their location in the map and determine how to get to an exit point. Include a starting point and label it, then indicate with arrows where a person should go to get out of the building. Include a compass indicating “N” for North for easy navigation. Make sure each map is orientated to the perspective of the viewers so they can find themselves easily in the area.
Display the evacuation maps in high-traffic areas where they are easy to find. Make sure they are at eye level and free from any obstacles. Replace any map that is faded or torn. If there are any updates to the map that require a new layout, make sure to replace every map in the building with new ones.
Establish a Marshal Area.
The marshal area is the place where all evacuees should congregate after exiting the building. It should be an area near the building but located at a safe distance in case of a fire, earthquake, explosion or chemical leak. This could be the parking lot or the pavement in front of or at the back of the building. The marshal area should be marked clearly on the map.
Consider Evacuation Procedures for People With Special Needs.
Create a modified evacuation procedure for employees or visitors who have physical disabilities if necessary. Otherwise, make sure to provide safety procedures that will ensure their escape, such as designating rescue assistants for the hearing and visually impaired, or placing safety signage and equipment that are especially designed to guide them.
Assign Emergency Evacuation Assistants or Leaders.
Each floor or area of the building must have evacuation assistants – able-bodied individuals who will take charge in guiding and reminding evacuees where to go and what to do. These assistants will be tasked to check rooms, cubicles and other areas for personnel to ensure that everyone is informed and no one is left behind.
Emergency evacuations are a necessity for every business. If your company needs help in drafting an emergency evacuation plan, call FCF Fire and Electrical Central Queensland today for professional advice and assistance.