With Spring comes the excitement of getting together at social events including dance recitals, theatrical productions and graduations to name a few. Unfortunately, every so often the unexpected happens: an earthquake, a fire, a chemical spill, an act of terrorism or some other disaster. We all should have our “Emergency Plans” established for the home; however these do not work when we are away from home. As we enter any public assembly building we need to take a minute to prepare ourselves, our family and friends in case of an emergency.
BEFORE YOU ENTER:
- Take a good look. Does the building appear to be in a condition that makes you feel comfortable? Is the main entrance wide and does it open outward to allow easy exit? Is the outside area clear of materials stored against the building or blocking exits?
- Have a communication plan. Identify a relative or friend to contact in case of an emergency and you are separated from family or friends.
- Plan a meeting place. Pick a meeting place outside to meet family or friends with whom you are attending the function. If there is an emergency, be sure to meet them there.
WHEN YOU ENTER:
- Take a good look around. Whenever you enter a building you should look for all available exits. Exits may be in front and in back of you. Be prepared by sharing this with the others that are with you so that you all use the closest exit. You may not be able to use the main exit you entered from.
- Check for clear exit paths. Make sure the aisles are wide enough and not obstructed by chairs or furniture. Check to make sure your exit door is not blocked or chained. If there are not at least two exits or exit paths clear report this violation to the management and leave the building if this is not immediately addressed. Contact your local fire department should you continue to have concerns.
- Do you feel Safe? Does the building appear to be overcrowded? Are there fire sources such as candles burning, pyrotechnics, or other heat sources that may make you feel unsafe? Are there safety systems in place like alternative exits, sprinklers, and smoke alarms? Ask the management for clarification on your concerns. If you do not feel safe, leave the building.
SHOULD AN EMERGENCY OCCUR:
- React Immediately. If an alarm sounds, you see smoke or fire, or some other unusual disturbance immediately exit the building in an orderly fashion.
- Get out Stay out! Just like at home, once you get out, stay out. Under no circumstances should anyone ever go back into a burning building. Let trained firefighters conduct the rescue operations.
Involve young children in creating an Exit Strategy whenever you are away from home. Begin by asking children to point to the way you entered the building. Now play “I Spy” by having them ‘spy out’ other ways to Exit the building should a door not be available. During this time, be sure to create a meeting spot that is safe and away from the building.