Planning for Safe Evacuations

evacuation, disability   March 26, 2008

This is Chris Matt, Associate Editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s tip is planning for safe evacuations.

Maintenance and engineering managers understand life safety must come first in emergency preparations. However, they often spend too little time developing strategies to get people out of a building, particularly people who cannot use the stairs to evacuate.

For those planners who do consider human capital first, here are two key questions:
• Do you know everyone who comes in and out and spends time in your building everyday?
• Do you know if all of these people could safely evacuate the building without using stairs in an emergency?

Information forms the backbone of every successful emergency-preparedness plan. Gathering information about a facility’s current accessibility provisions will tell managers what they must add to meet the needs of those who cannot use stairs to safely evacuate.

Communication is key and managers need to ask the right questions. What they need to find out is, “Would you need assistance in evacuating the building if the elevators were shut down?” That question is not offensive to anyone’s personal situation, and it begins the dialogue.

In emergency preparedness, the adage, “practice makes perfect” is absolutely true. Once managers know what the building can support and who is in it, the next big step is planning and implementing regular drills.


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