Start preparing now for your next evacuation

The 6.9 earthquake this Sunday reminded of the need for a solid evacuation plan.  I live in an area that rarely feels an earthquake (I think there was a 3.0 when I was in seventh grade) so I’m no expert on earthquake protocol.  What I can tell you about is how important it is to have a safe evacuation assembly area for your employees/residents/visitors. The earthquake in Mexico-southern California occurred on Easter Sunday saving most business from being affected from an evacuation standpoint.  However, if it happened on a weekday and employees weren’t current in their emergency training, the outcome of this earthquake could have been extremely devastating.

Developing an effective, safe evacuation plan needs to happen before the emergency.  Here are some steps to get you started:

  1. Do your due diligence: Investigate your facility – mark exit routes, block off a spot in your parking lot for your evacuation assembly area, create an evacuation policy.
  2. Update your emergency equipment and marking products: Get what you don’t have! Refer to my blogs “Create a complete exit, fire & evacuation guidance system” and “Create a safe haven with Evacuation Assembly Area products” for essential products and tips.
  3. Put Evacuation Leads in place: Choose one individual from every department to be the Evacuation Lead for that department.  This person must complete your training and be ready to lead and keep track of his/her department in an emergency situation.
  4. Train the rest of your staff: Go over your policy with all employees in the building. Ensure they know evacuation routes and correct procedure when exiting the building and entering the evacuation assembly area.
  5. Practice! Choose days for drills and enforce your evacuation policy. Go one step further and block an exit door with a “fake fire”, forcing your employees to use their knowledge of other exit routes in your facility.
  6. Debrief after each drill: Learn from problems and mistakes, adjust your policy and procedures as needed.

The goal of every evacuation plan is to get all employees to the evacuation assembly area safely and quickly.  Follow these steps to get your business on the right track.  Bad situations don’t give notice – be ready for anything!

Create a safe haven with Evacuation Assembly Area products

Where do your employees gather after an evacuation?  Most stand in the parking lot away from the building, some go their cars, some wander around the premises… it’s almost impossible to keep track of everyone unless you have a well-organized Evacuation Assembly Area. Easily account for everyone in your facility when every employee is required to meet at a safe spot far away from the building and emergency crews.  A good Evacuation Assembly Area will include bright bold signage at the designated assembly point, traffic cones and barricade tape to block off hazards and dangerous areas, and lightsticks in case the environment is dark due to time of day or smoky conditions. It’s best to be proactive about your emergency training – ensure each employee is required to attend emergency procedure training once a year.  Provide plenty of practice opportunities and appoint certain employees Evacuation Leads.  These small and simple steps will protect your workforce from any emergency situation.

-ms