According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are roughly 350,000 fire-related incidents in the United States each year. Many of these incidents occur in businesses, and even more occur in workplaces with up to 100 employees. The reason that so many fires and other emergencies happen in businesses?
Most companies don’t have an emergency action plan or exit route procedures in place, leaving their employees vulnerable to injury and death during any type of fire or dangerous situation. For this reason, it’s important that every business owner knows how to define exit routes and emergency action plans for their employees.
Why do you need an exit route?
There are a few situations where it’s crucial that you have an exit route. From evacuating safely in case of a fire or smoke-filled room, to knowing how to quickly get out in case of an attack, exit routes matter. If you work in a building with multiple floors, there should be at least two ways for employees to leave each floor, as well as several different ways for them to evacuate if one way is blocked.
And if you work alone at night or in a remote location, your emergency action plan should include specific instructions on what steps to take if you encounter someone who poses a threat. No matter what type of business you run, whether it’s a small retail store or a large office complex, your safety is always important. That’s why having a clear exit strategy can make all the difference when seconds count.
What constitutes an exit route?
An exit route, according to NFPA 101 Life Safety Code, is a continuous and unobstructed path of vertical or horizontal egress travel from any point in a building or facility to a public way. In most cases, exit routes have three characteristics. First, they are continuous—they do not end at intermediate points within a structure. Second, they are unobstructed—they are free of all physical obstructions that could impede egress. Third, they are accessible—they can be reached without having to climb over obstacles or pass through doors that require keys, special knowledge or effort to open.
The code also says that every required means of egress must provide an approved exit route; it does not say anything about alternative exits. However, if you’re planning for emergency action plans (EAPs), you should identify alternative exits as well as primary ones.
Who needs an emergency action plan?
If you work in a building with 100+ employees, it’s a good idea to set up an emergency action plan. But even if you don’t have that many people on staff, it makes sense to consider creating one as a way of being proactive about fire safety. It’s important for your employees and customers—and, not least of all, yourself—to know what they should do in case of an emergency. Not only does having an exit route and emergency action plan help keep everyone safe, but it also helps protect your business from liability issues.
The last thing you want is for someone to get hurt at your workplace because there was no easy escape route or employees didn’t know how to handle an emergency situation. Having clear, easy-to-follow guidelines can help prevent these types of situations from happening. For example, you might want to make sure that there are smoke detectors installed throughout your office space and test them regularly; if there is a fire, they will alert people when it’s time to evacuate.
What are the elements of an emergency action plan?
As a business owner, it’s important to know what constitutes an emergency action plan. A poorly formulated exit route or emergency plan could be problematic in certain situations, as it may be ill-equipped for different types of emergencies. So make sure you know what goes into creating an exit route and emergency action plan that will work for your business. In general, these plans should contain four elements: a clear description of evacuation routes; communication between employees; details about how to communicate with authorities; and details about how employees should respond when notified of an emergency. When put together correctly, these elements can help keep employees safe during an evacuation situation—and ultimately save lives.
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