Being prepared for a potential hazard or disaster and being ready to evacuate if necessary is essential to keeping all personnel at your company safe. Panic and people running around chaotically should not be a part of any company’s evacuation plan because those things put lives at risk. Having an evacuation plan is a big part of being prepared for a potential hazard or disaster. Below are some important parts of a good workplace evacuation plan that may not be well-known.

First, throughout the year it is important for employees to report any broken doors, doorknobs, exit signs, or other physical items vital to an evacuation. By the time an emergency hits, it’s too late to try to address such repairs and the delays could put lives at risk. Also, building maintenance teams should not place or store equipment or materials in front of an exit door or block any other path that would be essential to an evacuation plan. Placing such items in these locations is especially troublesome for newer employees who have never been through an evacuation drill before so they have no idea where the emergency exits or routes are.

Next, it is important to practice, practice, practice the evacuation plan. The secret to an effective practice though is to make it as close to the real thing as possible. This means that the fewer the people who know about the practice drill, the better, so the metrics gathered during the practice drill truly show how ready your employees are in the event of an emergency. Obviously, this goes without saying that someone or a group of people at the company should be in charge of measuring metrics during a practice drill, such as total time it took to get everyone out of the building and did everyone know what to do once outside.

Lastly, it is important to constantly update the written copy of the evacuation plan. Remember the metrics mentioned previously? Those and other notes about what went well, or what didn’t (and what is being done about it) during a practice drill should be added in the written copy of the evacuation plan. If new construction takes place inside or outside of the workplace, especially big projects, they could impact evacuation routes and other parts of the plan. The plan should be widely distributed within the company so everyone is aware of the part(s) they play in case of an emergency.