The last thing any employee wants to thing about is a fire in their building. However, fires are a hazard you cannot ignore and instead of hoping for the best, prepare for the worst. The more your staff is educated on what to do in case of a fire the better chance everyone has at escaping the building and surviving. Here are some quick tips on what to do if a fire should start in your building.
Have a Plan: Nothing is more dangerous than not having an emergency plan in place for dealing with a fire. At the first sign of smoke and fire people begin to panic and if they don’t have a safety plan memorized this will lead to confusion and bad decisions. As the manager of your office it is up to you to put a safety plan in place, have your employees learn it and practice safety drills to ensure everyone knows what to do at the first sign of smoke.
Stay Calm: It may sound idealistic but staying calm is the most important part of escaping a fire. The smell of smoke and the sight of fire can cause panic in just about anyone but panicking will not help the situation. If employees are starting to panic do your best to calm them down, ensure them it is going to be alright and help them along as you use the escape routes.
Identify Escape Routes: As part of your safety plan, have clearly marked escape routes. This should include clear paths to exits and emergency lighting indicating where employees can safely leave the building. Avoid elevators and escalators since it is very easy for these systems to shut down during a fire and leave you stranded in a precarious position. Always check your escape routes and make sure nothing is blocking the path. Boxes, equipment and file cases can impede a person’s escape and lead to stampedes that could cause serious injury.
Have a Working Fire Extinguisher: As you prepare to exit the building, someone should be designated to grab the fire extinguisher and lead the way. Every office needs to have a compliant fire extinguisher on the premises and someone who knows how to use it. This person is best suited to help guide people out of harm’s way and use the extinguisher to suppress flames that could block an exit route.
Call 911 and Evacuate: If you are in charge of the fire safety plan remember to call 911 and report the fire giving the operator as much information as possible. When the call is finished scan the office and make sure everyone has exited. Gather your staff in designated areas and begin evacuating the building in a calm and orderly fashion to avoid running and people being knocked over.