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Emergencies, response planning, management, and all that

Emergencies are a part of life and they can happen anytime whether at work, home, on the road or in your community. So preparing for them ahead of time is the only sure way to take the sting out of what impact or effect they may be packing wherever, wherever. For an office block for example your Emergency Response Plan (ERP) should include the following:

* Begin by drawing up emergency evacuation plans for each floor and make sure that they are conspicuously displayed for all to see

* Ensure they are simple and easy to read and understand

* Boldly mark the location of exits and fire/emergency appliances clearly

* Appoint designated Fire/Emergency Wardens or Superintendents for each floor and assign specific emergency roles/duties

* Train all occupants on orderly evacuation of the building in an emergency and post directional signs to designated safe muster zones for head count

* Train occupants to avoid the temptation of trying to retrieve or save their valuables on leaving the building as this may result in loss of valuable orderly escape time in seconds which can jeopardize the safety of one and all 

* Conduct drills as often as necessary to familiarize occupants with their assigned emergency roles and responsibilities to avoid confusion and ensure response time is within acceptable limits and/or progressively reduced

* Train occupants to avoid use of lifts or elevators during evacuation because it is unsafe to use them at the time of emergency

* Shut all office doors behind you as you leave to join the evacuation and do not go back into the building until there is a general ‘All Clear’ announcement from the Emergency Response Coordinator indicating that it is safe to reenter the building


Same should broadly apply to high occupancy public facilities such as hotels, schools and colleges, hospitals and medical clinics, shopping malls, indoor and high-rise markets, etc.

 Home Emergency Response planning is a different kettle of fish entirely when it comes to Emergency Roles and Responsibility (ERR) and general emergency management because aside from high density, high rise multi-floor tenements which should generally follow the planning pattern of office blocks, all other low density, single or two floor occupancy ER Plans must be fit-for-purpose to the building or occupancy under consideration. Such ERPs should include the following:

  • Ensure the building is equipped with life saving/early warning fittings, appliances and portable firefighting equipment such as extinguishers, smoke alarms, etc
  • Train occupants to efficiently and effectively operate installed fire extinguishers  well ahead of the day of need and also ensure that all fire emergency equipment are operable at all times
  • Ensure that entrances and exits out of the building are accessible and free of obstruction at all times, practice escape and evacuation as regularly as you can
  • Impress it upon the household that emergencies will occur without warning so absolute grasp of what to do when the need arises is of prime importance
  • There are no designated ER Wardens , Coordinators, etc, in the home front so every occupant must be prepared to act correctly without prompting
  • Adults must look out for the safe evacuation of children, the old, infirm and the physically challenged
  • Be sure to boldly and prominently display the Public Fire and Medical Emergency telephone numbers somewhere within the building for occupants’ easy access and retrieval  
  • It is also useful for occupants to know the immediate neighbour’s telephone numbers, etc


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