Evacuation Preparation: 4 Mistakes Businesses Make

The specific legal requirements for a business’s emergency response strategy will vary based on its jurisdiction. But most companies will still need to have a personalized emergency plan in place to navigate evacuations during various crises.

An emergency response plan can help prevent injury to occupants, minimize damage to the building and company assets, and protect surrounding buildings from sustaining damage. Devising a thorough plan means doing what you can to keep clients, employees, and resources safe in the event of an evacuation, and adopting responsible measures will see team members returning to the workplace much faster.

However, going one step further and hosting a trial run is critical. This way, you’ll immediately see what was overlooked and what can be strengthened. You’ll also be able to avoid making one of these four common mistakes that managers and directors often make during their evacuation preparations.

1. Failing to Educate Employees

One of the most vital elements when preparing for an evacuation is thoroughly training team members. Hosting a test run is an excellent place to begin. Different emergencies call for different responses. Therefore, it’s vital to identify team members who understand the nuances of each evacuation to take charge and direct their fellow coworkers to safety.

Comprehensive, semi-regular training will maximize the potential for a calm and collected evacuation instead of a hurried, stressed, or frenzied approach — which can negatively contribute to an already dangerous situation.

2. Not Procuring Vital Tools for an Emergency

When we consider an emergency tool, immediate considerations often go to securing first aid kits and fire extinguishers. While these items are crucial, there are other tools that building managers and company leads can procure to guarantee the safe evacuation of all team members and clients. These include evacuation chairs from Evacuscape. Operated by just one other person, these stairchairs provide a smooth and safe evacuation for people who have challenges with mobility. Disabled persons, those with a temporary injuries, and seniors are just a few who will benefit from an emergency evacuation chair.

Consider your evacuation procedure from every angle. What tools could be purchased to improve and expedite the experience?

3. Selecting a Poor Refuge Point Indoors

A refuge point is a location in the building where those who require assistance and cannot easily access fire escapes alone can await help to descend the stairs — often with aid from an emergency chair. Failing to choose an appropriate refuge point will see confusion, congested hallways and stairwells, unaccounted employees, and potential injuries.

Specs will vary based on location, of course, but a refuge point should generally offer a minimum 60” diameter turning space — just enough room for one wheelchair to turn around. It should also be in an area with 30 minutes of fire protection and where a wheelchair does not block the escape route for other persons.

4. Choosing an Inadequate Assembly Area Outside

An assembly area must be identified for people to congregate once they have evacuated the building. This allows for a quick and concise headcount — ensuring everyone has left the building and is accounted for.

When choosing an assembly area, consider outside temperatures, the general population of the building, and the amount of passing external foot traffic (which may confuse counts).

The Bottom Line

Preparing for an evacuation involves looking at each unique circumstance— be it a fire, flood, earthquake, extreme weather event, or human threat. By hosting trial runs and getting team members involved for both training and feedback, you’re setting yourself and your employees up for a safe and efficient evacuation.

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