Earthquake building evacuated
December 1, 2016 0

Earthquake building evacuation plans – what everyone should know

Posted by:Erin Brown onDecember 1, 2016

At WhosOnLocation we want everyone to know that there is a safer way to do building evacuation – that is, by using the latest visitor management technology.

The recent earthquakes to hit New Zealand and Japan serve us all a reminder that businesses should run their building evacuation processes in the most efficient, yet safest way possible. After all, it’s impossible to know when and where events such as earthquakes will happen.

What we do know is that they happen and that the risk is relatively high that an evacuation will occur. We also know business directors and floor wardens have a moral and legal responsibility to make sure they have an adequate means of ensuring everyone is safe and accounted for in an emergency.  

The big quakes in November 2016, New Zealand (7.8) and Japan (6.9), remind us of the responsibility we have too, to let evacuation wardens and those responsible for the wellbeing of people in an emergency know what technology is available to them, to make sure everyone is accounted for and for first responders and emergency services to get to anyone needing help in the shortest possible time.

The rhetoric in these last few weeks around what to do when they happen had some misinformation around a proper response. For example, some people suggested you should evacuate immediately and run outside. So before going any further we want to reiterate that during an earthquake a building should not be evacuated straight away.

If inside

  1. Seek cover immediately, in a place close by and out of the way of windows and large hazards.
  2. After the shaking has stopped run a check for injuries and safety hazards.
  3. After it is deemed safe, an evacuation should be ordered.
  4. Those needing assistance to exit the building should be helped.
  5. The evacuation should take place using a stairway not an elevator.
  6. During evacuation people should be aware of falling debris and other hazards.
  7. The muster point for an earthquake emergency should be in an open area where it is safe to do a roll call.

For some good information on how to plan for and what to do should an earthquake event occur see

  • New Zealand Civil Defence website
  • Worksafe’s planning page
  • Te Papa’s ‘Minimising Disaster’ Planning Document
  • Disaster Preparedness Poster
  • All Business – Evacuation Planning Ideas

So to our responsibility to share our evacuation technology with as many people as we can.

Because we work in the visitor management, contractor, employee and evacuation management business, we know (and see) the many benefits that come from knowing who’s on-site and who isn’t at any time. We also know that one of the biggest advantages of using an electronic visitor management system is having the ability to quickly verify the safety of people during an evacuation event.

We are actively encouraging businesses to start using a visitor management system to run evacuations. The technology is inexpensive, easy to implement and can make all the difference not only around emergency services response time but the general organization of evacuation events. In fact, our cloud software WhosOnLocation actually came about after Founder, Darren Whittaker-Barnett, was involved in a somewhat shambolic evacuation event. At the time he decided there must a better way to account for the safety of people during an evacuation and hence the genesis of WhosOnLocation.

Black iPhones with WolEvac evacuation management app screens roll call and are you safe texts
Using a visitor management system with those on-site: employees, visitors, contractors (or off-site in the case of lone workers and such), logged and ready to do a roll-call (in person at the muster point or online) can literally mean the difference between life and death. And, being able to pull up a list of those who need assistance during an evacuation on your mobile device straight away means you can get to those people fast and not risk leaving them behind. If your evacuation management system is in the cloud you can also run communications between wardens, emergency services and first responders. You can also send out a bulk text to make sure everyone is accounted for and clear buildings zone by zone.

There are other forms of technology that can be useful in a natural disaster.

Have a look at the NZ Red Cross’ new ‘Hazard Appthrough which you can send personal ‘I am safe’ messages or communicate with social media, plus stay up to date with the latest developments.

Also see this list of 7 apps that might be of use in an emergency.

We can’t let the recent earthquakes be a missed opportunity to help businesses keep their people safe. Use this chance to ensure your emergency and evacuation policies are as effective as they can be, before the emergency is real. The risk from natural disasters, not to mention building fires and other events, is real, and there is a good chance your office building will have to be evacuated at some stage. Don’t leave the safety of those you are responsible for to chance. Implement visitor/evacuation management technology today and make sure everyone is accounted for in an emergency evacuation.

See how WhosOnLocation can make your building evacuation plan safer and more effective today.


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