How do you coordinate the safe evacuation of a building or buildings in the case of an emergency—if you have to handle helping visitors and employees evacuate, especially those with disabilities or who don’t speak English?
What about a high-rise building, where multiple sets of stairs, longer wait times for help, and fire department accessibility make leaving the building challenging?
The larger the facility and the more people to evacuate, the more complex the evacuation plan. From establishing a warning system to accounting for everyone post-evacuation, there are several hurdles to overcome.
But a good evacuation plan can help clear those hurdles. In this post, you’ll learn what evacuation plans are, what they should include, and how Sine can help make sure everyone on site knows what your company’s evacuation plan is.
What is an evacuation plan (and why does my business need one)?
Emergencies and disasters can happen anytime.
You may face an unforeseen situation that threatens your employees, customers, or visitors. A workplace emergency can disrupt or shut down your operation or cause physical or environmental damage with no warning. Depending on your location and industry, you may encounter:
- hurricanes or tornadoes,
- toxic gas releases,
- chemical spills,
- radiological accidents,
- explosions, or
- civil disturbances.
When facing any of these situations, a disorganized evacuation can lead to confusion, property damage, and injury.
So, how do you protect yourself, your employees, and your business?
The best way to react to an emergency is to get ready for it before it happens. By planning ahead, you can help reduce the impact of a tragedy and may even save lives. Because few people think clearly during a crisis, it’s important to get ready in advance, when you can think logically.
A good evacuation plan will prepare you and your business for unexpected disruptions.
What is an evacuation plan?
It’s a plan spelling out what you should do in an emergency situation. It helps to efficiently and safely get people away from an area where there is an imminent threat, ongoing threat, or a hazard to lives or property.
How to create an evacuation plan that will prepare you for (nearly) any emergency
It’s good business sense to prepare for the worst. Plus, you may be required to have an evacuation plan in place to stay in compliance with laws relevant to your business.
Assess the risk environment
- Contact public emergency services (e.g., police, fire, and emergency medical services) to find out their response time to your location, knowledge of your worksite and its hazards, and their ability to handle an emergency at your facility.
- Find out if there are any rules or regulations applying to emergency planning at your workplace and address any regulations that apply in your plan.
- Create a clear chain of command. Make sure everyone knows their role in the evacuation. For example, some companies designate “wardens” who make sure employees under their care are evacuated.
- Determine if the situation warrants evacuation or not. In some cases, it may be more prudent to shelter-in-place. In others, the best course of action is to quickly evacuate to a pre-planned location away from the worksite.
Prepare a plan of action
- Prepare specific emergency evacuation plan procedures. You should have exit routes and a detailed emergency plan readily accessible. Here is a sample emergency evacuation checklist you can customize for your needs.
- Ensure access to all necessary safety equipment. Make sure any safety and health materials you need are in working order and easy to access. This may include chemical suits, hoods, hard hats, safety shoes, safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or first aid kits.
- Choose a designated meeting place for everyone to gather once they have been evacuated. Make sure everyone knows how to reach a safe location.
- You will need a way to account for all visitors and employees after an evacuation. When time is of the essence, you’ll need a way to make sure everyone has reached safety. This may include visitor logs, personnel records, or attendance records.
- You should practice your evacuation using drills and keep all relevant records and plans up to date. If your workplace goes through significant changes, you’ll need to adjust your evacuation plan accordingly.
Visitors also should be accounted for following an evacuation and may need extra help when exiting the facility.
Sine can help you evacuate your workplace safely
Here are a few ways Sine can help you keep your workplace safe in the unfortunate event of an emergency.
- You’ll have a list of all employees and guests onsite when you reach the assembly area. Once the building is evacuated, you can use Sine to account for everyone and let first responders know whether everyone is accounted for.
- You can require visitors to watch a short video or view info like evacuation routes with instructions on what to do in an emergency when they check-in. Sine can help you easily share check-in forms or show contractors and visitors important information like maps and pdfs on your iPads before they can sign in.
- If there are visitors or employees unaccounted for, you can use Sine to pinpoint their last known location as well as their contact information. This can save precious time in an emergency situation where every second counts.
- Once your geofence is activated, you can send clear messages to every person within the perimeter so you can use Sine to send real-time alerts letting everyone onsite know about the issue. You can also use Sine for evacuation reports
- Store site-plans, floor plans, and other emergency planning information like chemical Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) in Sine so you can easily access them or share them with emergency responders.
Where to next?
Hopefully, you’re armed with some information that will help you improve your company’s evacuation plan. Preparing for an emergency is nothing to take lightly because a little foresight now could mean the difference between life and death later on.