Evacuation Systems: Why Clear Fire Signage, Evacuation Routes and Protocols are Crucial

28 March 2024 in Building, Commercial

Evacuation Systems: Why Clear Fire Signage, Evacuation Routes and Protocols are Crucial

evacuation signage

Shouting ‘Quick, get to the chopper’ may work as an evacuation plan in your typical action movie, yet real evacuation systems need a lot more careful planning. Just as stage actors prepare for ‘curtain up’ and stuntpeople rehearse for dangerous action scenes, businesses should rehearse for fire outbreaks.

Clear and efficient evacuation systems and protocols streamline evacuation routes to save lives. Read on to learn about navigating emergency evacuation systems in the South African context. 

Evacuation training programs make it obvious what to do

In the event of a fire breaking out, exiting the building in an orderly and calm manner is important for avoiding injuries or loss of life. Stampedes due to panic easily turn deadly.  

Evacuation training programs are a smart safety investment that form part of a company’s overall emergency plan. Companies that rehearse evacuation protocols with staff can respond to fires and other emergencies faster, emptying spaces quicker than competitors who fall behind on fire safety measures.  

A well-communicated plan that establishes a clear set of guidelines about what do in the event of an emergency, plus clear fire escape signage, keeps employees as well as building visitors safe. 

Navigating evacuation systems in South Africa

There are many issues to consider when planning evacuation systems in South Africa. 

For example, given the country’s many official languages, it is important to have signage that is either trilingual or communicates key safety comms using clear visuals.  

There are also fire safety and evacuation readiness requirements in the OHS (Occupational Health and Safety) Act 85 of 1993, such as the legal requirement to have at least two fire drills annually. 

What are the building blocks for safer evacuation systems?

To build an evacuation process that saves lives, it is important to:

  1. Establish clear evacuation routes and designated assembly points so that there is no confusion in the event of an emergency when panic can set it.
  2. Install clear and correct fire signage that is SABS approved and identifies relevant exit routes clearly. 
  3. Keep employees and visitors informed of safety and evacuation processes and protocols.
  4. Plan and rehearse evacuation to stay prepared as fires may break out or other disasters may break out with little to no advanced warning. 
  5. Conduct regular evacuation training programs for staff and ER personnel who will be able to guide others to safety in the event of a fire. 

Managing evacuation strategies for larger companies

What if you have larger premises due to the size of your company? It is then even more important to have a well-managed fire emergency evacuation process. 

Health and safety officers who are responsible for reviewing the effectiveness of plans and processes and conducting inspections should be appointed. 

A comprehensive building assessment should be performed by accredited fire safety professionals to ensure you have the necessary fire detection and suppression systems, and evacuation plans should be developed, tested, and implemented.   

There should also be careful consideration of evacuation needs for building users who have disabilities to ensure they are equally able to exit safely, the same as able-bodied building users. This includes evacuation routes that have features such as chair lifts, ramps, and adequate lighting. 

Using technology to streamline evacuations

Technology plays an important role in modern evacuation systems. From fire alarm systems to loudspeakers, it is important to have the necessary technology installed to facilitate calm communication and evacuation during an emergency. 

Newer technologies such as mobile phone evacuation alerts help to ensure that nobody is left behind in the event of an emergency. 

Keeping good emergency evacuation etiquette

Good emergency evacuation etiquette is another measure that saves lives. From keeping exit routes clear, to knowing exit routes, avoiding panic, and making sure to help others, these are all part of good etiquette to impart to employees and building visitors. 

Do you need fire signage for evacuation routes or fire safety equipment installations? Contact ERF today

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