Adequately planning for building emergencies takes preparation—employers are expected to have an emergency action plan (EAP) for employees to follow, and oftentimes an emergency evacuation map can be a crucial component of that plan. For an evacuation map to fully succeed in its objectives, however, they need to be readily available and designed to prevent any additional confusion in the midst of an emergency.
Safety maps should be placed at a building’s key locations to help occupants navigate to safety during an emergency. They should be conspicuous and in a well-lit area, ideally in areas where emergency exits are least obvious and employees are likely to see them on a regular basis. High-traffic areas including doorways are easily spotted, while facility bulletin boards offer familiarity as a source of employee communication.
Incorporate egress map locations into employee training. Be certain that staff members know where to look for evacuation maps, no matter what floor or hallway they find themselves in. Increasing awareness of the tools around them can provide employees with additional, valuable time in case of an emergency.
Evacuation map availability and accessibility is an important step, but there are other practices to consider. One that often goes ignored is the proper orientation of the floor plans on posted safety maps. In an earlier blog, we went into detail on the importance of properly orienting evacuation maps, even when this level of detail isn’t required by local fire codes. We noted how posted egress maps should be turned to reflect the location’s forward walking direction, as this orientation provides several benefits at once, ensuring:
- Maps can be read as easily and fast as possible
- Occupants will be immediately guided in the correct direction, allowing for a speedy egress
- Those evacuating will be less likely to make a wrong turn and become lost
When putting together an emergency evacuation map, there needs to be a balance of information—an overly detailed safety map is tedious to sort through, making a timely evacuation difficult, but too little information and no one will know where to go! OSHA created an interactive floor plan to illustrate the elements of a good emergency evacuation floor plan. Their example includes:
- Designate Primary & Secondary Exits – Exits should be remote from each other, located in such a way as to minimize the possibility that both may be blocked by the same emergency.
- No Emergency Exits in Restrooms – Even if available, bathroom doors and windows leading outside should not be designated as an exit.
- Exit Away From Rooms with Hazardous Materials – Exit routes must lead away from these rooms so that no employee is forced to pass through the area.
- No Emergency Exits into Narrow Passages – Short passageways may not provide enough open space for a safe emergency evacuation.
- Exit Signs Indicating the Nearest Emergency Exit – Signs clearly stating “Exit” with a directional arrow must be placed in areas where the nearest exit is not immediately visible.
- Designate an Assembly Area – An external assembly location should be clearly shown on an emergency map.
- No Use of Elevators to Reach an Emergency Exit – Any multi-floor building should show the locations of stairways and elevators, indicating that stairs should be used instead of elevators in the event of an emergency.
- Indicate Exits with Wheelchair Access – Exits with wheelchair access should be shown on an egress map.
- Indicate the Employee’s Current Location – The evacuation map should indicate the employee’s current location in the building.
By including these features, you can be confident your safety map has achieved the balance needed to facilitate the best possible evacuation for your employees in an emergency situation.
Building Maps: Experience Where it Counts
As you can see, an effective egress map requires careful attention and crucial information to assist building occupants during an evacuation. Our industry-leading team of experts knows what it takes to create a code-compliant safety map your employees can rely on. Contact us today for a quick and free quote.