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Does Your Emergency Exit Plan Make Sense?

October 13, 2021 Posted by in Crisis Communications

Does your emergency exit plan make sense even when it’s not only an idea on paper? When an emergency event confronts you and your employees, customers and staff, all kinds of things can go wrong if you are not properly prepared to deal with it. If chaos and panic ensue — if an evacuation route is not predetermined, for example — an emergency situation can escalate into something far more dangerous. In a time when seconds count, it makes sense to review in advance your all-hazards emergency response plan and emergency communication system (or to create an emergency and business continuity plan if you don’t yet have one!).

Emergency Action Plan Tips

Here are some crucial tips on getting started and/or creating your emergency exit plan that makes sense for you and your group:

  • Have I delegated duties? Dealing with a disaster or emergency should be a team effort. There will be enough chaos to go around without everyone wondering who should be doing what, or assuming somebody else will do it. In advance, assign tasks to your group as to who will take on responsibility and authority in a given situation. Also have a backup plan if the original choices could not fulfill their duties. Assignments could include: getting people to safety, getting in touch with first responders, shutting down operations, assisting those in special need, and doing periodic head counts.
  • Have I considered a head count? Make a thorough list of the people who may be affected by the event. Are you sure you are including everyone? Are you constantly updating the list and deleting the names that may be no longer relevant? In the event of an emergency, your head count list should be as recent, relevant and as updated as possible.
  • Should we shelter in place or evacuate? Of course, it depends on the nature of the event or emergency, and local officials may send orders for one or the other. In each situation, having a clear and detailed plan for this is crucial to saving lives and avoiding chaos and confusion. Some events — such as active shooters, chemical spills, and tornado warnings– have suggested protocols for this.
  • Is everyone familiar with fire escape strategies? Although most people think of fire when thinking of emergency events, they may not think through what they need to do in the literal heat of the moment. Make sure your people are familiar with fire exits, escape routes, fire codes and regulations, and periodic building safety inspections. Have the fire department representative have a talk with your group, to educate them and to answer questions.
  • How safe and dependable are my IT and cybersecurity systems? People always come first, but don’t forget about your online data and your hard-copy files. They may not survive a fire or weather-related incident unless you take proactive steps in advance to protect them. Talk to an IT expert about how to best backup your systems in the event of an emergency, and have second copies of important documents stored in other locations.
  • Have I put my escape plan in writing? Write your plans, along with important contact info, on paper and distribute the hard copies to your group. Also, store additional copies off site so they can be easily accessed (make sure they are clearly marked). Also be sure to add it to your data, so that it can be accessed online (with a security password) if need be.
  • Is my group well trained in dealing with an emergency event? The more educated your group can be to deal with an emergency, the more effective your response will be. Offer periodic training, as well as routine drills and plan reviews. Find out what’s going smoothly and what isn’t, and why. Know the plans strengths and weaknesses.
  • Have I considered a post-event review? Post-emergency-event planning is vital in ironing out the wrinkles so that if there is a next time, it will go more smoothly and your group can handle it more seamlessly. Don’t ever think that the same emergency could not ever happen again. Also, consider your group’s psychological response to the event — mental health therapy may be in order.
  • Choose effective mass communication. The vital details of your emergency exit plan should include a foolproof way for you to communicate with your group. A flexible system that can communicate on different platforms (texting, emails, voicemail, etc.) is the best way to assure that information is conveyed to the right people and in the right places.

Additional Next Steps

For more in-depth information and government regulations around effective emergency action plans, check out the links below.


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