Evacuation Plans & Procedures

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Planning for an emergency is important when it's necessary to exit a large number of people safely and efficiently. When faced with an emergency, it is usually best to evacuate the building and call in trained professionals to handle the problem instead of trying to combat the emergency yourself and compromising the safety of those in the building. Creating evacuation plans and procedures lets employees know what to do before an emergency strikes.

Employees Responsible for Emergency Evacuations and Procedures

The extent to which employees are responsible for emergency procedures will depend on the size of the business or facility, but there will often be an emergency coordinator and alternate emergency coordinator, along with safety monitors. Emergency coordinators oversee the evacuation plan and process, while safety monitors interact with other employees and deal with the daily logistics and communications necessary to prepare and educate employees for evacuations. Additionally, safety monitors will advise the coordinator of everyone’s safety and maintain responsibility for getting a specified number of people out of the building safely. Smaller businesses or organizations may have people covering these roles who are not formal safety and evacuation personnel. Either way, they will receive training on emergency procedures, know where employees are to go, and have a particular meeting place and way of accounting for those under their responsibility. Safety monitors will communicate any problems to the coordinator as well.

Safety and Evacuation Precautionary Measures

Safety procedures for evacuation include clearly posting appropriate exit locations, posting emergency phone numbers and ensuring that employees have training information about evacuation procedures. This should include what they do and where they go. Training employees about safety equipment is also important; employees should be aware of floor plans, emergency exits, evacuation routes and any areas that should be avoided in an emergency. Supervisors should know all procedures needed to make sure that the employees under their direction exit the building promptly and are accounted for. Establish clear meeting points established; tell employees to use stairwells instead of elevators or escalators, particularly in situations involving fire.

Practicing the Evacuation

Once evacuation procedures are planned, they should be practiced. Periodic emergency evacuations will make sure employees know where they should go and will get them used to leaving the premises in a calm, orderly manner. This is an excellent way to ensure that any equipment needed for exiting is in good repair as well. When employees exit, safety coordinators should determine the speediness of the evacuation and whether all employees exited.

Evaluating the Evacuation Procedure

Evaluate practiced procedures so that coordinators can identify ways to make evacuation more efficient. Note exit times, the number of people exiting, and whether equipment was appropriately shut off. Any malfunctioning doors, windows or alarms should also be noted and repaired. The evacuation procedures should have a written review, and coordinators should oversee any needed improvements.

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