The 6.9 earthquake this Sunday reminded us 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
Developing an effective, safe evacuation plan needs to happen before the emergency. Here are some steps to get you started:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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!