Are Your Tenants Safe?
Certain emergencies may warrant either complete or partial evacuation of the facility. A complete evacuation involves the removal of all occupants from the building, with the possible exception of emergency team members. A partial evacuation may involve either the relocation of occupants to unaffected areas or removal from the building of only those occupants in affected areas. Note that this phase deals only with the movement of people. In certain situations, evacuation or relocation of building contents may be called for — such efforts will be discussed separately under control/mitigation. The initial tasks for the planning team include determining whether evacuation might be required for each type of emergency, whether evacuation would need to be partial or complete and how urgent the need to evacuate might be. These factors will need to be considered together to determine the evacuation scenarios that may arise for each emergency.
- A medical emergency would not typically require evacuation (other than the individual requiring medical attention.
- A fire could require either partial or complete evacuation, depending on the building size and construction, fire department regulations and the size and location of the initial fire.
- A tornado warning might warrant immediate relocation of occupants from perimeter offices.
- A hurricane warning might warrant total building evacuation, but might allow time for securing or removal of valuable contents.
- A power failure, if of extended length, might require building evacuation, but occupants would not be exposed to any immediate threat; therefore, evacuation could be staggered.
For each emergency for which evacuation might be required, the following questions need to be answered:
- Who will order evacuation?
- When will the order be given?
- How will notification be made? (Review notification, communication.)
- Who will supervise evacuation?
- How long will evacuation take?
- How will evacuation routes be maintained? (Review building components.)
- How will any occupants with special needs be accommodated?
- Who will verify that evacuation is complete?
- Where is evacuation location?
- How long will people need to remain in evacuation area?
- What provisions will be needed at relocation areas?
There may also be some situations where occupants should not evacuate the building. Such instances should also be identified at this time. For these situations, the following questions should be used to determine the relevant issues to remaining in place. For example, rather than identifying the means of evacuation notification, the issue will be ensuring notification of the order to remain in place.
- During and after an earthquake, the interior of a building designed for seismic forces will typically be safer that the exterior.
- In a transportation or weather-related emergency, authorities may request that occupants remain where they are, or that a staggered departure be used, to avoid overloading available transportation facilities.
- During a civil disturbance in front of a building, doors may be locked and all entry or exit may be prohibited.
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