Emergency Action Plans… Evacuation Procedures

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Procedures for the orderly evacuation of a building may be implemented for several reasons, such as fire emergency, toxic gas leak or spill, bomb threat, or severe weather conditions. Whatever the underlying cause, it is important to remove those people from the building who must be moved (the specific emergency situation may or may not affect all floors or all wings of the facility) safely and efficiently, without causing panic or undue concern on the behalf of the guests.

  • An evacuation of the building should be authorized by the executive director or by the presiding officer (fire or police) in charge in the case of a declared emergency.
  • It should be preceded, if possible, by the dispatching of personnel to the stairwell entrances for each of the involved floors, to direct and reassure the patrons and guests.
  • The elevators should NOT be used, even in situations where the elevators are not dangerous because of fire. They should be returned to the main floor and parked. It is important that the people proceed out of the building in an orderly, steady stream, not only because that is the safest and most efficient means, but because it is also least stressful and concerning to the participants. The use of elevators disrupts that flow, causes congestion, and thus, increases the chance of panic. Tempers can rise because of overcrowded or missed elevator cars, adding to the volatility of the situation.
  • Once the decision to evacuate is made, every action should be documented and the time of the action recorded.
  • An announcement should be made in a calm, even voice, and broadcast over the public address system as follows:
    • “May I have your attention please? May I have your attention please? As a precautionary measure, the management is requesting that all patrons evacuate [the facility / the specified floors / the specified wing], making certain that your doors and windows are [closed in case of a fire emergency, open in case of a bomb threat]. Please leave the building by the nearest stairway or exit. Do not use the elevators. Please walk. Do not run. There is no need for panic.
    • The message should be repeated at least one time. The reason for evacuation should never be announced.
  • The previous announcement should be followed by a visit by a staff member to all rooms in the area bearing the following message:
    • "I am sorry to disturb you, but the management has requested that all patrons in this area vacate the facility for security reasons. Please [close in case of a fire emergency, open in case of a bomb threat] your windows and close your door on the way out. The location of the nearest emergency exit is posted on the inside of door of your area.”
    • Again, no specific reason for the evacuation should be given.
  • A written list of all areas that were contacted should be maintained. Assistance should be given to the elderly or disabled or any others needing assistance.
  • As the evacuation begins, de-energize air-conditioning and ventilation systems. Turn off all gas and fuel lines at the main connection (only qualified personnel should turn these back on again so that boilers and other devices are properly restarted). In a fire emergency, the stairwell ventilation fans should be started.
  • High-rise structures often are not fully evacuated as the fire can generally be limited to the story of the fire and the stories immediately above and below it. That determination, however, should be made by the presiding fire official on the scene.
  • Security (or other designated staff members) should be posted at each exit from the building to calmly reassure the patrons of their safety and to direct them to a safe area 200' or more away from the building. These safe areas should not interfere with vehicular or fire-fighting traffic patterns and they should be behind solid cover in the case of a bomb threat.
  • First aid and other emergency equipment and personnel should be summoned at the beginning of the procedure so they are available if necessary.

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.

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