Guidelines for Evacuation
REMEMBER: Prior planning and practicing of emergency evacuation routes are important in assuring a safe evacuation.
There are four basic options for evacuation:
- Horizontal evacuation: using building exits to the outside ground level or going into unaffected wings of multi-building complexes.
- Stairway (vertical) evacuation: using steps to reach ground level exits from the building.
- Stay in place: unless danger is imminent, remaining in a room with an exterior window, a telephone, and a solid or fire resistant door. With this approach, the person may keep in contact with emergency services by dialing 911 or (802)656-3473 and reporting his or her location directly. Emergency services will immediately relay this location to on-site emergency personnel, who will determine the necessity for evacuation. Phone lines are expected to remain in service during most building emergencies. If the phone lines fail, the individual can signal from the window by waving a cloth or other visible object.
The stay in place approach may be more appropriate for sprinkler protected buildings, or buildings where an "area of refuge" is not nearby or available. It may also be more appropriate for an occupant who is alone when the alarm sounds. A label on the doorjamb or frame can identify a fire resistant door. Non-labeled thick solid core wood doors hung on a metal frame also offer good fire resistance.
Area of refuge: with an evacuation assistant, go to an area of refuge away from obvious danger. The evacuation assistant will then go to the building meeting point, and notify the on-site emergency personnel of the location of the person in the building. Emergency personnel will determine if further evacuation is necessary.
The safest "areas of refuge" are stair enclosures or open-air balconies. Other possible "areas of refuge" include fire-rated corridors or vestibules adjacent to exit stairs and elevator lobbies. Many campus buildings feature fire rated corridor construction that may offer safe refuge. Taking a position in a rated corridor next to the stairs is a good alternative to a small stair landing crowded with other building occupants using the stairways as a means of exit in an emergency.
People who do not feel comfortable evacuating via stairs should "stay in place" or move to an "area of refuge" when the alarm sounds. An office with a door and a phone or a stairway landing can be used for this purpose if there is not a designated area. Inform others of your location and call 911 or (802) 656-3473 and inform the dispatcher of your building and location. Elevators are not safe for use during fires. If you are evacuating and encounter a person who is not self-evacuating inform the first arriving fire or police officer of that person’s location. Emergency responders will evacuate the person or remain with them while the nature of the emergency is determined.
People who feel that they can evacuate via stairs may be able to negotiate stairs in an emergency with minor assistance. Offer assistance, but obtain their permission first. If there is no immediate danger (detectable smoke, fire or unusual odor), the person who has difficulty evacuating may choose to stay in the building, using the above options, until the emergency personnel arrive and determine if evacuation is necessary.
Most buildings on campus are equipped with fire alarm strobe lights; however some are not. People who do not hear audio emergency alarms may need to be alerted to emergency situations. Emergency instructions can be given by writing a short explicit note to evacuate or by using gestures.
Most people will be familiar with their immediate surroundings and frequently traveled route however they may be in buildings with which they are not familiar. Exit the building following the appropriate evacuation route, which may be different than the most familiar path of travel. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance in evacuating the building. Do not use elevators.
- If the emergency evacuation route is different from the commonly traveled route, a person may need assistance in evacuating.
- The assistant should offer their elbow and guide the person through the evacuation route.
- During the evacuation the assistant should communicate as necessary to ensure safe evacuation.
Assisting With Evacuation
- If you cannot help someone exit, assist the person to a safe area. A safe area is a room with a door that can be closed or a stairway landing large enough to accommodate the person.
- Stairwells are usually designed to provide temporary protection from the effects of fire and provide rapid rescue access for emergency responders.
- Always alert emergency responders immediately if you know there is someone still inside the building.