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Escape Planning - Using Fire Exits To Get Out Safely

Aug 17, 2007
Fire exits should be strategically located, with an outward opening door that has a crash bar and outward leading signs on it. Knowing where to find the emergency exits in a building that you frequent can save your life. Inward opening, rotating and sliding doors are unacceptable for use as fire exits, as they might need to be fixed open using a latch or chain if the door is needed as an exit route.

In the UK, one exit is satisfactory for buildings where no more than 60 people work, as long as that the building is on the ground floor level only. The outsides of fire exits need to be kept clear and marked with a suitable keep clear sign. Whenever the building is in use, the exits should be well lit by normal mains lighting. Once your workplace follows a course of scheduled assessment, unsafe conditions can be recognized and corrected before they cause serious injuries.

Learn the location of fire escape routes and how to set off the fire alarm. It might be necessary to make available "refuge points" for disabled or elderly persons to wait for assistance in some larger buildings. You should also remember staircase exits, since elevators may not function during a fire, or may expose passengers to gas, heat or smoke.

It is important that there be sufficient and adequate fire exits so that people can safely and swiftly leave the building without being put in any danger should there be an outbreak of fire. The combined use of ordinary and special fire exits allows for quicker mass departure, while it also gives another option if the route to the usual exit is blocked by fire, etc.

The number of people who could potentially use the exit, together with several other factors, will decide the amount of fire exits used in any situation. Fire exits should be spread around the building so ensuring that people can reach a safe exit route. Fire exit routes must be kept clear at all times. Fire protection measures can include the installation of fire doors, a common sight in larger buildings.

Having a sound escape plan will greatly reduce fire deaths and protect you and your employees' safety if fire occurs. Remember, in the event of a fire, time is the biggest enemy and every second counts! Practice escape plans at least twice per year. Designate a meeting location at least 500 feet away from the building, but not necessarily across the street. Remember to escape first, and then notify the fire service.

Small Fire Procedures
If a minor fire appears controllable, do the following:
1. Avoid personal injury and extreme risks
2. Warn people in the immediate area and set off the alarm
3. Call the fire brigade
4. Smother fire or use the nearest fire extinguisher
5. Always maintain a way to leave the room

Immediately notify the fire brigade if the fire seems unmanageable, and then vacate all rooms, closing all doors to confine the fire and reduce oxygen. Follow your evacuation plan and walk quickly to the nearest marked exit and ask others to do the same. Assist the handicapped in leaving the building. If requested, help the emergency crews as necessary. Do not return to an evacuated building until the emergency crew pronounces that it is safe to do so.

Each workplace building should have at least two separate means of escape. The local fire brigade should from time to time make a plant walk-through to check on fire safety, and to ensure that fire exits are located far enough from each other that a fire in one area won't block both or all exits. Fire exits must never be locked or blocked when people are working in the building.
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Information on fire fighting equipment and fire extinguishers for home or commercial use
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