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How does a successful office evacuation plan end

Office Evacuation Plans: How to Get Your People to Safety

How does a successful office evacuation plan end

February 28, 2023 Posted by in Crisis Communications, Mass Notification

How can a robust office evacuation plan keep your people safe?

John F. Kennedy once remarked, “Effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” He was talking about how a country charts its course to achieve its objectives, but if you’re an organization that wants to protect your team in an emergency, it’s worth taking note of his wisdom.

Safe evacuations in emergencies depend on knowing what to do, where to go, and how to execute the plan, i.e., having purpose and direction. That’s why every organization, from schools and hospitals to large companies and small businesses, should have a well-designed and easy-to-read Office Evacuation Plan posted in key locations throughout their facility.

This article addresses some of the most common questions asked about evacuation plans, exit maps, regulations, fire codes, best practices, and other related issues. First, though, it’s important to understand why an Office Evacuation Plan saves lives.

Plans Prepare Against Panic

An article from the International Association of Fire and Rescue Services notes that in instances of fire or other emergencies, “Fear of endangerment and entrapment may arise from emotions associated with panic and may lead to deadly and tragic consequences such as stampede and trampling.”

Panic is more than an emotional response to danger. It includes a physiological response in which a flood of adrenaline courses into the blood stream and speeds up the heart. While this can have a positive effect on a person’s ability to survive a crisis, they need a plan of action in which to channel their energy. Otherwise, unchecked panic can lead to injuries and even casualties.

When people have a plan and leadership they trust, it’s amazing how they can respond in a crisis.

So what should your Office Evacuation Plan look like?

Clarity is key when it comes to building evacuations, especially in complex facilities. A good evacuation plan map is professionally designed, large enough to read from a distance, and durable.

It also needs to feature:

  • A simple building floor plan
  • Clearly marked primary and secondary exits
  • Color-coded exit routes for different areas of the facility
  • A designated Assembly Area
  • Marked exits with wheelchair access, when applicable
  • Orientation to indicate an employee’s current location

For buildings with multiple floors, it’s also necessary to mark stairwells and state clearly that elevators are not to be used in the event of an emergency evacuation. Additionally, consider noting the location of emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and AEDs.

Where should your evacuation plan be posted?

Post evacuation plans where people will frequently see them. This includes high-traffic doorways, near elevators, in restrooms, on communal information boards, and at exit points.

The main objective is for evacuation plans to stand out. This doesn’t just aid employees, but also assists first responders as they navigate a building floor plan to resolve an emergency.

NOTE: Evacuation plans in high-traffic areas become white noise if not addressed frequently. Make an effort to draw people’s attention to these life-saving instructions!

Does OSHA require evacuation maps?

OSHA legally requires organizations to maintain “emergency escape procedures,” but does not explicitly require evacuation plan maps be posted inside a building.

NOTE: The local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) may require evacuation plan maps be posted in your facility. This may be the Fire Marshall, an Emergency Management Agency, or another government entity. Check with authorities in your area for regulations such as local fire codes.

How do you ensure your team can execute an evacuation successfully?

Practice, practice, practice. There’s a reason Special Forces live and die by their training. It creates the muscle memory and mental frame of mind necessary to perform in high-stress situations. The same is true for anyone involved in an emergency. Chris Price, Director of Corporate Security Services at Hydro One in Canada, drills his personnel frequently.

“In an emergency situation,” Price comments, “if people don’t feel comfortable and don’t know what to do, that feeds panic.”

If you want people to perform under pressure, then for their own safety, hold regular drills in which personnel must successfully execute the Office Evacuation Plan.

How do you efficiently initiate an evacuation in the face of a real emergency?

Most companies utilize mass notification systems like RedFlag’s award-winning software to communicate with employees, third-party contractors, vendors and stakeholders during a crisis. A multi-channel communication tool provides quick, clear instructions when seconds count. See how RedFlag can alert your people to an emergency in real-time and promptly initiate your office evacuation plan by scheduling a custom demo here.

A Quick Recap

Office evacuation plans that are clearly posted and consistently practiced save lives. Don’t wait until a crisis strikes before you prepare. Assess your facility’s floor plan, consider possible risks to a safe evacuation, and develop a plan to get your team to safety.



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