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Emergency Evacuations: Are You Prepared?

Emergencies are frightening. Whether you are at home or on the job, feelings of panic, turmoil, and fear are often associated with an emergency and are not a fun experience. However, the best way to protect yourself and others is to prepare for an emergency before it happens.

The first thing to do is a thorough mental assessment of your workplace. Think about possible emergency situations and evaluate your workplace to see if you are sufficiently prepared. Now, plan ahead by considering the following:

  • Become familiar with your employer’s Emergency Evacuation Plan.
  • Know the pathway of at least two alternative exits from every room or area that you work in.
  • Be able to identify the sounds or signaling alarms for fires and evacuations.
  • Know who to contact in an emergency and how to contact them.
  • Know how many desks, cubicles, or workstations are between your workspace and the two nearest exits, so that you can escape in the dark, if necessary.
  • Know how to use fire alarms and be familiar with where they are located in your office.
  • Inspect safety alarms regularly and report any damage immediately once you notice it.

During an Evacuation

Should you need to evacuate while at work, do not panic! Instead, focus on the following safety recommendations.

  • Leave the area as quickly as possible in an orderly fashion. Follow the Emergency Evacuation Plan route.
  • If there is a fire, go to the nearest fire-free exit and smoke-free stairwell. In some instances, there may be smoke or fire in an exit, so choose the one with the least amount of hazards present.
  • Listen for instructions from your supervisor or over the company’s public address system.
  • In a fire, crawl low under the smoke to breathe the cleanest air available.
  • Before opening doors, test them for heat by placing the back of your hand against the door (which will prevent you from burning your palms and fingers.) If the door is hot, find another exit; do not open the door.
  • Keep all doors closed to slow the spread of smoke and fire.
  • Do not use the elevator when evacuating a burning building since it will not work and you may get stuck inside.
  • Once outside the building, report to the designated meeting spot as outlined in the company’s Emergency Action Plan.
  • Never re-enter the building unless your supervisor or another authorized individual tells you to do so.