An emergency evacuation plan is a crucial component of fire safety in every commercial facility or building. When an effective evacuation plan is in place, it ensures all employees, customers, and tenants can efficiently and safely escape the structure before disaster strikes.
The #1 decision when a workplace emergency crop up is whether the entire staff should evacuate the building or stay put. However, many organizations usually focus on crises – to a great extent – involving staying inside the building. This is the usual practice during tornado or earthquake drills and the steps to take when a heavily armed individual takes over the building by threatening violence.
But where most of these plans fail to meet a particular expectation or standard: planning for emergencies requiring a quick or sudden evacuation.
Why an Emergency Evacuations Plan is Important for Every Building
A lot of dangers can happen inside a building. This includes toxic chemical spills, a fire ignited by malfunctioning electrical wiring or components.
These risky conditions require immediate evacuation when they occur. But this is practically impossible if the said building has no emergency evacuation plan.
This is one of the reasons why every building, especially business facilities, high-rise structures, or buildings, must have a well-practiced, well-defined evacuation plan in situ. This is the only guaranteed way cool heads carry the day in a crisis, and each employee arrives safely outside the commercial building.
Emergency evacuation plans are also vital for buildings for these other reasons:
OSHA Recommends It
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires that every employer creates and keeps an Emergency Action Plan on file. This emergency evacuation plan must contain highly detailed procedures of the entire process.
Any organization with over ten employees as staff members must have a physical, written copy of the emergency evacuation plan posted at a spot where all employees can see it during an emergency.
If any changes are made to the layout of the commercial facility or new hazards are introduced, or significant personnel changes are set in place, a new emergency evacuation plan must be drawn up immediately and posted at that conspicuous spot.
It Establishes a Meeting Place
Well-drafted emergency evacuation plans show all employees where they need to go as soon as they exit the building during crises. It is not suitable for employees to drift to different sides of the building or run to their vehicles as soon as they are clear of the building.
An emergency evacuation plan reveals to staff where every employee is expected to be – and precisely when they should get there – as soon as evacuation begins.
Employees must stay together immediately after an evacuation as it helps the leaders count heads successfully. This is to ensure everyone is safely outside the building.
If other people are left inside the building, the leaders can pass on this information immediately to the emergency personnel. The latter can then swing into action to determine precisely where those individuals might be in the building.
It Sets a Crystal-Clear Pecking Order
The first thing that usually jumps into the mind of the average employee in a workplace emergency is: ‘Run!’ Many people take this dangerous step mindlessly. But this significantly boosts the risk of property damage and injury.
In these situations, a set of level-headed and calm leaders capable of coordinating and overseeing essential tasks and orderly evacuation is what the organization needs.
This is why every organization must ensure the following three roles are covered during emergencies:
- Point of Contact: This is the first individual who communicates directly and efficiently with emergency services during crises. This person decides precisely when evacuations should occur.
- The Coordinator: As soon as the Point of Contact declares an emergency evacuation, the coordinator takes up the reins by completing the pre-determined list of safety tasks. This usually includes double-checking offices or bathrooms for stragglers, shutting down systems, shutting off gas lines, switching off electrical appliances, etc. In order words, steps to secure the entire site kick into gear as the emergency evacuation goes underway.
- The Head Counters: Once on the ground outside the commercial facility, the head counters take up a position. They count heads to ensure every employee is accounted for as soon as possible.
The best way to make this more efficient is to ensure all departments have separate head counters. Report immediately to a central authority once everyone is accounted for in each department
If a few employees are missing, the central authority takes it up and relays the information to emergency services.
First Aid/First Aiders:
Anyone who suffers cuts, burns, and other minor injuries may undergo treatment using the tools in the first aid kit. But this is to lessen the pain until emergency services show up on site.
A few employees should have been trained on using first aid and should have a basic understanding of the first aid kit. These are the employees who care for the wounded before emergency services arrive.
It Ensures Every Employee Remains Calm
When employees don’t know what to do, it is easy for them to panic during crises. When panic sets in, most people lose the ability to make good decisions or focus. This causes them to start behaving dangerously or irrationally, which may endanger others.
But with a carefully drawn or illustrated emergency evacuation plan. This informs every employee of the exact steps while providing a checklist for each step.
The rapid or successive progression of these steps quickly calms the employees’ nerves as they make their way to safety.
As you can see, having an emergency exit strategy in place for each commercial establishment is critical.
Therefore, ensure your building has an up-to-date emergency evacuation plan in place. Guarantee the safe passage of employees outside the building during crises.
If you have any questions about creating your emergency evacuation plan, contact Fraker Fire!