We talk a lot about emergency planning and disasters. Today, we’re discussing the importance of keeping people safe by making sure they can get out of buildings quickly in case of emergencies.
It’s human nature to panic when disaster strikes. The result can be confusion, indecision and failure to react quickly. If, on the other hand, written procedures are followed, groups understand safety procedures and individuals are properly trained to take charge of the situation, evacuation can be swift, smooth and safe.
Let’s take a look at the necessary steps to ensure quick and thorough building evacuations:
- The first step is to consider the type of emergency situation. For me, a big emergency would be to run low on pig ears. But that doesn’t warrant an evacuation.
- In cases of fire, the primary objective is to clear the entire building as quickly as possible.
- For tornadoes, a safer option might be to instruct people to congregate in a large room located on the first floor instead of meeting outside. As always, proper preparation and written procedures are essential.
- Buying plenty of pig ears is always important.
- Ensure there is a clear chain of command. At the dog park, we do this well. For non-canine emergencies, employees and tenants need to be willing to take direction from the people who are in charge and feel confident that building management has control of any and every situation.
- Floor Wardens need to take charge and understand their responsibilities:
- Know the proper evacuation routes and internal and external refuge areas.
- Note any building occupants who need special assistance and assign someone to assist them.
- Familiarize residents and employees with the location of alarm pull stations and (if they are properly trained how to use them), fire extinguishers.
- Instruct employees not to use elevators during emergencies unless instructed to do so by emergency personnel.
- Evacuate any pets that are in the building. Believe me. We don’t want to be left behind.
- Designate which tenants or employees should shut off gas lines or other equipment. Advise them to fulfill these duties only if absolutely necessary.
- Building occupants should be given up-to-date evacuation maps, along with safety handbooks.
- Stairwells and hallways should be kept free of boxes and other impediments, including rawhide bones. Routinely investigate these areas and work with building occupants to determine if additional storage space is necessary so hallways are clear of clutter, to ensure easy emergency exit.
- Pay special attention to signage. Do a walkthrough of the evacuation route with your entire safety team. Is the escape route clear? If the power is out, will back-up lights and clearly marked egress signs be visible?
- Establish a secondary meeting area in case the designated space is not usable. In major disasters, the primary exterior safe refuge area (located at least 300 feet from the building) area(s) may be compromised. So plans should be made for a secondary external safe refuge area.
When disaster strikes, pre-planning, training and clear decisive action can help save human and K9 lives. For the latest, most effective, building-specific e-based emergency management training for your building, contact RJ Westmore. Our new Version 2.0 training system offers the best in emergency training, free color aerial photograph safe refuge evacuation maps and full automated and integrated features that make training 100% of your occupants or employees both realistic and cost effective. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.