Over the past two years there has been a keen awareness around emergency preparedness because of the spread of Covid-19 and its continuing variants. There also has been an uptick in natural disasters that we are witnessing from more prevalent wildfires, flooding and destructive windstorms.
This awareness has influenced how we view all emergencies and how we need to be prepared for them and how we need to prepare. A recent report built for the new Canadian Accessibility Standards (Dutta et al Nov 2021) has coined the phase egressibility. The term refers to the concept that in times of an emergency evacuation that all buildings, management, staff, colleagues, and responders be able to evacuate everyone from that building regardless of their physical or mental state.
There are many factors included in the process including planning around the three main pillars outlined in the report
Means by which a building’s occupants are notified as to the status of an emergency is the key starting point and how the messaging gets across all areas and individuals has been made somewhat easier through technology, newer alarms, and smartphone apps. Ensuring that all individuals, including those with sensory limitations can access these vitals warnings is all part of step one of EVERYONE OUT!
The next step is to identify the safe path out of the building, and this includes proper wayfinding, including proper signage, lighting, guide rails, or illumination guide finders. Ensuring no time is lost when looking for the safe exit is critical to the process.
The third part of the process is the actual egress, and this is where we find many buildings lacking a final solution. In most jurisdictions in the country, we see good adherence to the evacuation planning (notification standards) and wayfinding as they are covered extensively through the Fire and Building codes of the provinces and vigilantly monitored by local inspectors. Ensuring those able-bodied occupants, a clear path to safety is well covered but what needs improvement is the planning around individuals with limited mobility to escape danger. In multifloored buildings, it is generally the stairs that are utilized for egress, and this is the main hurdle when it comes to ensuring EVERYONE OUT! Luckily there are many devices including safety evacuation chairs (Safety-Chairs) that can serve as a safe, quick, and easy means to eliminate the issues around the stairs, meaning, we can ensure EVERYONE OUT! Is the outcome in the emergency.
This topic of EVERYONE OUT! And the term egressibility will be heightened as Canada looks to extend its reach into creating a more accessible society and what we want to ensure is that accessibility includes egressibility and we can get EVERYONE OUT!, when it counts.
If you are charged with managing a building’s emergency evacuation or if you want more information go to www.everyoneout.ca or contact us directly.