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Evacuation safety

No matter what kind of facility you run, you should always be prepared for an evacuation. A fire or other hazard inside the building may require your people to quickly leave the building. To facilitate a safe evacuation, you need to make the proper preparations ahead of time and be prepared to take appropriate steps when you are in the midst of exiting the building.

Here, Church Mutual offers two lists — one for tasks you should accomplish to prepare for evacuation, and one you should follow during the exit itself.

Before evacuation

  • Create a plan and share it. Anyone who is in your building on a daily basis — including staff members, volunteers and students — should receive training on your evacuation procedure. They should know which doors to exit, and how the plan will change depending upon their area of the building. Make sure to consider how you will evacuate small children, infants, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Evacuation routes marked by exit signs should be posted. This Evacuation Plans and Procedures e-tool from OSHA provides specific recommendations on developing an evacuation plan.
  • Conduct drills. Most schools regularly conduct various types of evacuation and lockdown drills, but other organizations should do so, too. When an emergency arises, your people should feel very comfortable with evacuation procedures.
  • Keep emergency exit doors unlocked from the inside while the building is occupied.
  • Never store anything in front of emergency exit doors. You may be tempted to do this because you rarely use these doors. But in the event of an emergency, such blocks could prevent people from leaving the building and possibly cause a trampling situation.

During evacuation

  • Notify all building occupants. If you have a public address system, you can make an announcement for all to hear. But if you don’t, designate a person or group of people to make sure everyone has exited the building.
  • Avoid the location of the hazard causing the evacuation. Whether it is a fire, chemical spill or some other danger, all individuals should be prevented from entering the area where the hazard is. If necessary, designate a staff member or volunteer to block access to that part of the building during evacuation.
  • Report to an assembly area. Leaders in your organization should be directing all people to a common assembly area (or, if necessary, more than one area) outside. No one should be leaving the premises — authorities will need to obtain an accurate count so they can make sure everyone is outside the building. The assembly area should be a safe distance away from the building.
  • Wait to re-enter the building. You should never re-enter the building before authorities tell you it is safe to do so.

Visit Church Mutual’s website for more safety resources.