You never know when an emergency will happen. This is why you have to plan in advance and have an emergency exit plan in place.
Simply having exit signs and an alarm system isn’t enough. People have to know what to do and who to follow when the worst happens.
During a time when it’s easy to panic, you’ll be glad to have a plan in place. By covering five key components, it’ll be easier for everyone to make it to safety faster.
Emergency Exit Plan Required
Before you think it’s not that important, know that the Ontario Fire Code requires buildings covered under section 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124 to have a fire safety code in place. Without one that covers all necessary requirements, you could face hefty fines in the event of a fire or related emergency.
1. Sounding The Alarm
What happens when an emergency starts? Confusion is your worst enemy. The first key component of your emergency exit plan should cover the steps necessary to notify everyone of the emergency.
This includes sounding alarms and notifying local emergency personnel. Unless everyone knows there is an emergency, everyone can’t get out safely. The sooner everyone takes action, the quicker you can evacuate.
2. The Best Exits
Your emergency exit plan should include drills that help occupants learn the paths to the best exits for different areas and floors. If you have employees or occupants who often work in varying areas and floors, ensure they practice the drills in different areas and are trained on the proper exits.
One key part of this is to explain when elevators are appropriate and when stairs are the best option. After all, you don’t want occupants getting stuck in the elevator during an emergency.
Naturally, all exits should be clearly marked, making it easier to evacuate.
3. Evacuating Special Needs
All of your occupants may not be able to walk to the exits. For anyone with special needs, your emergency exit plan needs to have the proper evacuation procedures for those people. This is especially true in healthcare facilities.
You’ll also need to designate who is in charge of ensuring those people have a clear exit and know what to do in the event of an emergency. In most cases, you’ll have a leader, but all occupants and staff should be trained on what to do to help others.
4. Designate Leaders
In the panic and chaos, people need someone to follow. While everyone needs to be trained on the proper evacuation techniques, every area needs to have a clear leader in place. This can be a leader per floor, department or a set group of people.
These are the leaders who ensure the alarm has sounded. They know exactly how many people are in their area and where to send them in the event of an emergency. They’ll need to be specially trained on how to lead people and how to avoid panicking themselves during an emergency.
5. Controlling Fires
Sometimes, a clear exit isn’t available during an emergency. Of course, your building should have fire safety equipment in place, such as fire extinguishers. Your emergency exit plan must include details on the location of equipment and methods for controlling fires.
In extreme cases, this could be the single factor that helps occupants keep fires at bay until help arrives or clear a path to evacuate more people. This is also why multiple exit strategies should be put into place, if possible.
Post Your Plan
Most importantly, keep your emergency exit plan posted for everyone to see. Even with proper training and drills, panic may cause people to forget what to do. Plus, there may be visitors in the building who have no idea what to do.
Keeping this posted provides guidance, especially if occupants are separated from designated leaders.
While this is just a short list, we can help you with your emergency exit plan requirements. We’ll ensure everything meets the current Ontario Fire Code, install the plan and provide a fire safety plan box.
Image: Clem Onojeghuo