Imagine a scenario that could happen at any community organization. A fire caused by an old electrical panel starts in a maintenance room. Soon, smoke is filling the building and patrons are rushing for the exits. The exit from the pool area is blocked by pool toys. An exit from a fitness studio can’t be opened because heavy snow is piled outside of it. The evacuation is slowed as everyone tries to find accessible exits, adding to the chaos and confusion.
At community organizations, emergency exits are easy to put at the end of a long list of items to take care of – or forgotten entirely. So many other things seem more urgent, and rightfully so in some cases. If they’re needed, however, it’s crucial for emergency exits to be accessible immediately. That’s why it’s vital to add these items to a building walk-through check list to ensure emergency exits are taken care of:
- All emergency exits are marked with an illuminated exit sign.
- Emergency lighting is adequate throughout the building.
- All emergency exits are clear of items/debris.
- All emergency exits can be opened and are not blocked by snow or anything else from the outside.
It’s also a good idea to go over emergency action plans and evacuation plans regularly. Check that floor plans and evacuation routes are current and still accessible. If updates have been made to the building or to programs, different evacuation routes may need to be planned. It’s important in an emergency that routes out of the building are clear so everyone can get out safely.