Evacuating your business is not a task you should take lightly. When an emergency occurs, your primary concern is getting your employees and others on your premises to a safe location. Develop specific procedures for locating and evacuating those with mobility or chronic health issues. Work closely with your fire and police departments to develop the evacuation plan, and regularly practice your evacuation procedures so employees remain familiar with them.
Evacuating your business before an impending natural disaster often means you must act with little advance notice. If you hear a tornado warning, for example, consider leading your employees out of your glass-walled office building to a more substantial shelter. If your city's fire department advises that flooding is imminent due to prolonged heavy rains, you might advise employees to vacate your premises while they can still navigate the area's roads. Evaluate each scenario's challenges before you implement the best option for yourself and your employees.
Hazardous substance incidents can quickly become life-threatening emergencies. For example, a derailed train car can leak a hazardous material that creates toxic fumes a mile away. A gasoline tanker driver can misjudge a sharp turn, rolling the vehicle onto its side and causing gasoline to spill onto the road in front of your business. In these cases, your city's fire department will likely direct your company's evacuation.
If you regularly use hazardous materials during business operations, your employees are at added risk for a serious incident. Work closely with your fire department to develop and practice emergency evacuation procedures.
Firefighters can order your business' evacuation if it poses a danger or would otherwise interfere with their ability to fight the blaze. Even if the fire is not located in your office, it may still risk spreading into your location, requiring everyone vacate before the situation becomes life-threatening. If the fire does begin within your facility, your well-rehearsed emergency action plan will help employees quickly and calmly leave your building.
Public Safety Threat
Your city's police department or other law enforcement agency might order an evacuation because of a current or potential public safety threat. Examples include a suspicious package found near your business or a telephoned bomb threat received at your front desk. Police might also order you and your employees to evacuate until law enforcement personnel resolve an active hostage situation or apprehend a suspect they have surrounded at a nearby business.
- The Hartford: Take Care of Your Employees in a Disaster
- United States Occupational Safety & Health Administration: Evacuation Plans and Procedures: Evacuation Elements
- United States Occupational Safety & Health Administration: How to Plan for Workplace Emergencies and Evacuations
- WSVN-TV News: Suspicious Package Forces Evacuation
Based in North Carolina, Felicia Greene has written professionally since 1986. Greene edited sailing-related newsletters and designed marketing programs for the New Bern, N.C. "Sun Journal" and New Bern Habitat ReStore. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Baltimore.