Friday, February 16, 2018

Make it obvious

Another tragedy happened this week in a K-12 school and the media showed us video of panicked students fleeing from the school.  Thankfully, they knew how to get out of the school.

Each day is a good time to look around your facility and see if it is obvious to someone how to get out in an emergency or even if it is obvious to tell if there is an emergency. I still remember being in graduate school at the University of Maryland and walking into the student union when many people were leaving. Of course, the student union was a busy place, so that didn't seem unusual and I wasn't the only person walking in. Yes, there was a beeping sound, but it didn't sound like an alarm (or at least an alarm I was familiar with). Thankfully, it was only a bomb scare and my mistake was not harmful.   What I learned is that alarms do not all sound the same and that has informed how I react to beeps!

On every floor of the Westin in Westminster, CO is signage with the evacuation plan.  Notice that it contains information on what the fire alarm sounds like ("continuous, loud whooping sound").   That is good information, even if your not quite sure what "whooping" sounds like! 

Map of the 6th Floor at Westin Westminster

In the Denver International Airport (DIA), there are many, many signs pointing towards tornado shelters.  Some are text, while others are text and image.  Denver is a massive airport, so it is good that there are many shelters available and lots of very obvious signage. While you might not want signage this big, does your facility have signage which will help people leave in an emergency?  Is it noticeable?  Is it accurate?

Directional arrow to a tornado shelter

If you find your signage wanting, please take time now to improve it. And then test it with your staff and your community. Make sure that in an emergency, it is obvious what people need to do.

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