Saturday, October 29, 2011

Escape Routes

Yesterday I had a few hours to spare before I appointment and I was near where my sister worked, so I stopped in for a surprise visit.  She was happy to see me and introduced me to one of the owners of the company.  I had met him before but it was quite a while ago and he had forgotten.  My sister said that her boss had just asked her to find out some information about emergency plans for offices.  Sure I can help with that. 

The first thing I did was get a tour of the place.  It is half warehouse, half offices.  It had a bunch of lit exit signs hanging from the ceiling and walls.  That’s required by the local laws.  I asked where the fire extinguishers were.  They showed me two plus I found a third sitting on a shelf in the warehouse.  Of the two, one was in the warehouse and the other in the office space.  The extinguisher in the warehouse that was hanging on the wall was not visible and I wouldn’t have found it quickly, especially in an actual fire with smoke.  The owner said he knows where they are.  That’s nice I told him, but what if he is passed out due to something falling off the shelves on top of him and at the same time a fire started.  Someone would have to attend to him.  Someone would have to contact the fire department.  Someone should make sure everyone else evacuates the building.  Perhaps someone could try to put the fire out.

Where’s your escape route plan?  “What is that”, he asked?  It’s a diagram of your entire complex.  You know, a directional map like you see at the mall.  You are here with a big X.  Each office is shown as are the restrooms, halls, and warehouse areas.  You have this map in several places in the building with a big X of where you are at that specific location.  Then you show with an arrowed red line the route to get out of the building.

But are there different strategies for an earthquake compared to a fire?  What about a medical emergency?  What about a threat to an employee from a spouse/ex-spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.?

Do they have a list of phone numbers of the people in charge to be able to reach them during non-peak hours?  If they aren’t available, who is in charge?  There has to be someone designated at their building to be in charge.  Like the chain of command.  Who is #1?  If that person isn’t available who is #2, #3, #4, etc.?

There is really a lot they need to do.  The first thing is the map of the building.  After that they can sit down and figure out which is the best way out for each situation.  Once they get out, where do they go?  In some situations perhaps they need to lock themselves into their offices?  Then they need to practice and practice some more.

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