An evacuation template provides employees and visitors to commercial and other buildings with a clear map to safety in an emergency such as a fire, chemical spill, flood or criminal intrusion. The building manager, office manager or security officer should make the evacuation templates for the building. In addition, she should establish a hierarchy of safety officers who can authorize an evacuation and account for all employees and visitors once the evacuation is completed. Check with state and local safety commissions for any specific regulations regarding the evacuation template.
Obtain a copy of the building blueprints to form the basis of the evacuation template. If the building plans are unavailable, a line drawing by hand will work. In cases where a building or office space was constructed as a large empty room with cubicles or warehouse shelving added later, it will be necessary to draw these features in by hand.
Mark the exits. All viable emergency exits should be clearly marked on the evacuation template. Do not include any doors that require a key or code to unlock. Emergency exits should be unlocked at all times and clear of debris. Loading docks or delivery doors should not be considered as emergency exits due to their potential for high traffic. If the emergency exit is a stairway or fire escape, be sure to indicate this on the template.
Indicate safety equipment. Pictograms or word labels should indicate the placement of fire extinguishers, eye wash stations, emergency showers and first-aid kits.
Indicate a starting point on each version of the template. For example, if you are designing an evacuation template to be placed in the break room, you would indicate the starting point of the evacuation template by placing a red dot in the break room or write the words “You are here.”
Draw at least two possible exit routes. If one exit becomes blocked due to fire or debris, the evacuees should have an alternate route to leave the building.
Indicate a safe gathering area. The size of the map may not allow you to indicate the distance in accurate scale to the gathering area. A gathering area should be somewhere a safe distance from the building, easily accessible and easily identifiable. Examples include the parking lot of nearby business, landscape markers such as fountains or gardens, street corners or unattached parking garages.
Repeat from multiple starting points. Emergency evacuation plans should be posted in high traffic areas such as copy machines, vending machines, break rooms and bathrooms. Create evacuation plan templates for each of these locations.
Transplanted Yankee Erin Watson-Price lives in Birmingham, Ala., and has been writing freelance articles since 1997. She worked as writer/co-editor for Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue's newsletter, "The Long and the Short of It." In 2007 she obtained a certification as a copy editor. Watson-Price holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.