Evacuating your business

If a natural disaster is imminent, you may decide to evacuate your business or you may be ordered to evacuate by local authorities. Having an evacuation plan/procedure avoids confusion and possible injury during an emergency situation.

Consider the following when creating your evacuation procedures.

  • Decide what circumstances would trigger an evacuation. Learn more about emergency alerts and contacts.
  • Make sure evacuation alarms are distinctive and your staff recognise these. Install a PA system to alert staff.
  • Create a clear chain of command. Decide who is responsible for authorising an evacuation. Designate a warden(s) to help during the evacuation (i.e. making sure exits are clear, helping staff, performing head counts, etc.)
  • Work out both primary and secondary evacuation routes and exits and create floor plans that feature these. Post these in places where they are easy to see.
  • Install emergency lighting along evacuation routes.
  • Think about procedures for helping people with disabilities or who do not speak English.
  • Decide who will remain to shut down critical operations during an evacuation. Ideally, these should be trained staff who know when to abandon the shut-down and evacuate themselves.
  • Develop procedures for dealing with any hazardous materials.
  • Designate an assembly point for staff to gather after evacuating.
  • Decide how you will account for staff (and customers) after an evacuation.

Once you have an evacuation plan in place, make regular drills part of your business. This helps staff familiarise themselves with evacuations and gives you a chance to review your existing procedures.

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