Emergency Readiness: Evacuation Plans
Emergency drills are not only commonplace in public schools across the nation, but are actually required by law in most states. The importance of these practices in schools is self-evident, and yet they are often completely dismissed in the workplace. While some emergencies are region-specific and don’t affect the Missoula area (such as hurricanes and tornadoes) all workplaces are vulnerable to emergencies of one type or another. Assessing risks and creating a plan for your business in accordance with those risks can make your employees feel safer at work, help your business get back up and running quicker after an emergency, and even save lives.
In any emergency situation, you have a choice to evacuate or to take shelter. The first step in creating an Emergency Response Plan for your business is to perform a risk assessment of your facility, and for each risk decide which course of action is appropriate. One risk common to all workplaces is the risk of fire, wherein evacuation is of course necessary.
Your evacuation plan should include the following: a recognizable alarm system that can be heard throughout the facility; at least two exits per floor, which are clearly marked and accessible; previously arranged accommodations (such as a designated aide, if necessary) for employees with disabilities; and a roster of employees (plus visitor check-in list, if applicable) so each individual can be accounted for once reaching your designated off-site assembly area. Once you’ve created an evacuation plan with these components, you should assign specific employees to tasks like directing others to the exit in the event of an evacuation, bringing along a first aid kit (this should be readily accessible within your facility), and bringing the employee roster. You also want to make sure to run practice drills with your employees no less than once a year.
To get started on your business’s evacuation plan, you can visit ready.gov/business/implementation/emergency and download their Emergency Response Plan Worksheet. Also, keep an eye out for another SERVPRO of Missoula blog delving into Shelter-in-Place emergency plans.