Practices For Better Emergency Evacuation Management
Fires, natural disasters, national emergencies, emergency evacuations…what would you do in one of these situations?
No one likes to think about any of these scenarios, but the truth is that being prepared could save lives in any of these situations. This is why every workplace needs a strong evacuation plan.
These best practices will help you create an evacuation plan that is adapted to your workplace:
- Communication is a key element of a good evacuation plan. Someone should be in charge of calling the police or the fire department depending on the nature of the emergency. There should be one or more people acting as a backup in case the person in charge of calling for help cannot do it. Keep a portable radio around the office and put someone in charge of it so that you can receive updates via the Emergency Alert System.
- Find a way to keep track of who is present at the office. Knowing who is present in your workplace is crucial because the only way to make sure everyone is safe is to take a headcount after the evacuation. There are digital solutions you can use to keep track of who is present in the building and access this information remotely. Get employees, visitors and contractors to check in.
- Practice makes perfect. Evacuating your workplace will be a lot less chaotic if everyone has done it before. You should schedule surprise drills and ask everyone to act as if there was a real emergency. Time the entire process, look for mistakes and use these drills to figure out the best route for evacuating your workplace.
- Write down the best practices that should be followed during an evacuation and make sure everyone reads the document. These best practices should include how the decision to evacuate will be made, how the information will be relayed, the routes to follow to evacuate the building, including alternative routes and who should be alerted of the evacuation. The document should also designate a safe meeting zone and explain how headcount will be taken. Your best practices should also include the best course of action if someone is left behind.
- Challenge your plan and look for ways to improve it. There is no perfect evacuation plan but you can strengthen your plan by asking yourself how efficient your plan would be in different scenarios. Your safe meeting zone might for instance not be accessible in the event of a flood or your evacuation route might not be accessible if there is a hazardous chemical spill.
- Accessibility is one of the most important aspects of an evacuation plan. Accessibility is about making sure that your evacuation routes are always easy to use. This means you should ask everyone to follow some best practices around the office on a daily basis, such as not placing any items in front of the fire exits. You also need a plan in case someone with disabilities is present in the building at the time of the evacuation.
- Assign important roles carefully. Some individuals who do not handle stress well might not be able to lead an evacuation. You need to encourage everyone to speak up and let you know what they are comfortable with doing in case of an emergency. You should also ask about any skills and certifications your staff possesses. It would for instance make sense to put the person who has a CPR certification in charge of the first aid kit.
- Listen to what everyone has to say. Putting together a good evacuation plan is something you should do as a team. Getting everyone involved with this process also means everyone will be familiar with the details of the plan. Working as a team is a good way to notice more weaknesses and explore more ‘what if ‘ scenarios you might not have thought of on your own.
- Use iVisitor to maintain a real time emergency evacuation list accessible from any internet connected device.