When it comes to responding to emergencies such as fires, tornados, chemical spills and other disasters, it is important to be prepared. This typically starts by having an evacuation plan in place, but more importantly, ensuring employees understand the plan and know what they need to do. Too many facilities don’t practice their evacuation or other emergency response plans, so when something actually happens, people don’t know what to do.
This often leads to people panicking, which can cause significantly more danger. Once a facility has their disaster response plans in place, they must make sure everyone knows what to do by practicing them using safety drills. The following tips can help ensure your safety drills are effective, and run smoothly every time.
Given the fact that there are several different types of emergency drills that need to be practiced, it is important to schedule them frequently to ensure everyone knows what to do. The two most common drills are evacuation drills, which are necessary in case of fires, chemical spills or other events which require you to leave the building and shelter in place drills. Shelter in place drills are used for severe weather, and will bring people to a safe location within the building.
Random Dates and Times
Some companies get in bad habit of having the drills at a set time each month. For example, a fire drill occurring on the first Thursday of each month at 2PM won’t really prepare anyone for the real thing. They should occur at random dates and times so they are unexpected, just like a real emergency would be.
Each department or area should have one or more people designated as the leader for emergencies. They will be responsible for ensuring everyone remains calm and responds properly to whatever the situation. This individual will typically have some additional training to ensure they know how to respond to every emergency.
If a facility has people working off shifts, make sure to have emergency drills during those hours as well. Everyone in the facility should regularly experience evacuation and shelter in place drills to ensure the facility is ready no matter when the emergency hits.
Take Drills Seriously
Many facilities that do perform regular drills fall into the bad habit of not taking them seriously. People casually walk out of the building, stop in the restroom, or take unnecessary time to stop to grab a purse or other items. Evacuation drills should be simulations of a real emergency, so make sure everyone is taking them seriously and reacting just as they would if it were an actual emergency.
After an emergency drill, members of the safety and management teams should go over the results of the drill. Keeping track of things like how long it took to have the entire building evacuated can help to foster ongoing improvement. In addition, looking at the results of these drills can allow everyone involved to come up with new ways of helping people get to safety more quickly, which could mean the difference between life and death in a real disaster.