Evacuating in an Emergency

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Procedures for Evacuation in the event of a fire are different in every workplace.  You need to check the exact policies of the building that you are in.

Some buildings may have a stay in place policy, where the best thing you can do is to close doors and windows and stay where you are and wait to be rescued and lead to safety. A variation on this is horizontal Evacuation where you move to an exit by but not downstairs.  This is common in care homes and hospitals where it is not possible to move people downstairs and away from danger quickly.

If you hear a fire Alarm you need to stay calm and not panic.  Leave your possessions behind and leave the building calmly and without running.  We leave belongings behind so that you have both hands free and then the risks of things being dropped on exit routes are reduced.  If you have both hands free and there is smoke, it gives you more chance to crawl to safety.  Just because there is no smoke where you are, does not mean that your exit is smoke-free.

Be alert at all times, know your surroundings.  It may be that your nearest exit is blocked so you need to find a different exit.  Listen to others and follow the instructions from the fire wardens or fire marshals.

As you leave the building, keep watching what's happened as this information could be vital for the fire service in tackling the fire and looking for missing persons.

Once you are out of the building head straight to the fire assembly point where a register will be called to ensure that everyone is out of the building. The fire assembly point is a designated point that is safe to meet at, away from danger and giving the fire service access to the building. There may be more than one fire assembly point, so follow your fire warden and if you end up at a different point to your usual one, tell the warden so that everyone knows you are out of the building.

Stay where you are until told to move or return to the building by a fire warden, fire Marsha or the emergency services.  If you disappear off to your car or a shop, it makes it harder to ensure everyone is still safe and if it's needed to move people further away, no one is missed.  If you are thought to be missing, people may be put at risk, as they enter the building looking for you.

All buildings should have an emergency evacuation plan and this needs to be documented and reviewed as necessary. Your plan must show how you have:

- A clear passageway to all escape routes

- Clearly marked escape routes that are as short and direct as possible

- Enough exits and routes for all people to escape

- Emergency doors that open easily

- Emergency lighting where needed

- Training for all employees to know and use the escape routes

- A safe meeting point for staff

Ensure everyone knows the evacuation plan and that it is tested and amended regularly.