The importance of evacuation maps

Much like how passengers often fail to pay proper attention during the air steward’s safety demonstration before a flight, evacuation maps have become so ubiquitous and so ingrained into modern life that building occupants may often ignore them. And just like the air steward’s pre-flight demonstration, evacuation maps can save precious moments in the event of an emergency evacuation by allowing people to easily establish their location and nearest point of exit.

What is an evacuation map?

Evacuation maps form part of the evacuation plan for a building and they are of utmost importance for infrequent visitors to a building who may not be familiar with a building layout. Evacuation maps are typically a simplified illustration of a building, which in the case of an emergency provide simple easily understood directions to guide the buildings occupants to the most appropriate assembly point. They can also be used by emergency personnel in locating firefighting equipment during an emergency event.

Where should you find them?

In an emergency, well placed evacuation maps can alleviate some of the stress and panic associated with such situations. Evacuation maps should be located in multiple locations throughout a building in easily accessible areas such as lift lobbies. Each evacuation map should be designed specifically for its specific location.

What information is displayed on an evacuation map?

Evacuation maps should contain straightforward information to allow people to orientate themselves within the building. Each map should be marked with its own ‘You are here’ symbol that will assist individuals in locating the nearest point of safety or exit. Items typically identified on evacuation maps include;

Evacuation maps should be treated as “living documents”, following any alterations to a buildings layout the evacuation maps should be reviewed and revised where necessary. With the restrictions for Covid-19 due to be lifted in the coming weeks, many businesses across the country will hopefully be able to return to work. No doubt each business will be reviewing and perhaps modifying their own premises and business practices to incorporate the “social distance” guidelines. Any changes to a building’s layout and/or usage to accommodate social distancing measures must be compliant with building regulations. Where necessary these changes should be captured on both the evacuation map and the escape plan for a building.