By Andrew Lu
How does a deadly nightclub fire in Brazil affect your business? Well, it should be a wakeup call for you to review and possibly revamp your procedures for dealing with a fire.
It doesn’t matter if you run a nightclub, a day spa, or an Internet startup, you need to have a plan in place in case a fire breaks out on your premises. An effective emergency fire protocol can help to avoid a tragedy, and perhaps even a lawsuit.
Here are five tips you may want to consider when evaluating, and re-evaluating, your own emergency fire plan:
- Be familiar with your local fire code. Every locale has a fire code for businesses. Make sure you know what the code requires and make sure you are in compliance.
- Know your building. Some structures present special challenges when it comes to planning for emergencies. For example, OSHA offers these tips for evacuating high-rise buildings. It’s also a good idea to know other details about your building, such as where the gas shutoff is located.
- Unlock emergency exits during business hours. Due to security or theft concerns, you may be tempted to lock your emergency exits to prevent people from sneaking in or sneaking out. Consider alternatives. In the Brazil nightclub fire, in which more than 230 were killed, one exit was locked, Reuters reports. Locked exits have also led to deaths in other building fires as well.
- Mark and clear areas around emergency exits. There is no point in having emergency exits if no one can locate them. This is especially true during an emergency when people are in a panic. But even the most visible signs will not help if there are stacks of boxes or other heavy or difficult-to-remove items blocking the exits, so keep the area uncluttered.
- Review procedures with your staff. Remember how you had fire drills as a grade school student? You should have these same drills as a business owner to instruct your staff. The larger your staff, the more confusion may occur in the event of an emergency.