Safe Evacuation – what exactly does safe self evacuation look like?

Part 1 – Self-Evacuation (home)

What exactly is a ‘safe evacuation’? That depends of course on circumstances but the short answer is:

know your safe evacuation route, grab your Emergency Kit, get out – stay out – call for help

The long answer is a bit more complicated but actually quite interesting. So, let’s start at the very beginning with

What is an emergency evacuation and when does it happen?

An emergency evacuation is the immediate and urgent movement of people out of harm’s way to a safe location, away from threats or hazards (more see hazards and risks – what’s the difference).

Examples of emergency evacuations range from a small scale building evacuation to the large scale evacuation of an entire town or district. Reasons for an emergency evacuation include small and large incidents that may trigger fire or a spill, attacks or other security violation such as bomb threats. In addition there are disasters such as severe weather, storms, flooding, earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic eruptions, wildfires and also health related incidents such as an epidemic or pandemic.

Fire Drills and small scale Emergency Evacuation

First, a bit of comedy with Fa-fa-fa-fire! – Fawlty Towers

With the above in mind, Alex Gleeman has an excellent article titled Five ways to avoid the Fawlty Towers fire drill debacle in Health and Safety News which I encourage you to read but in this blog I want to focus on the ‘safe evacuation’ bit – or rather, complete lack thereof.

In the clip, Basil apologetically orders his returning guests to assemble in the lobby because “..something I ought to mention” which after escalating confusion eventually turns into raising the alarm ‘fa-fa-fa-FIRE!” causing the two elderly ladies to almost jump out of their skins, Polly subsequently ushering everyone out. Everyone? Going where exactly and for how long? What happens next to the evacuees? Thankfully it’s a pleasant day judging by the sunshine visible beyond the entrance and everyone’s fair weather attire. Perhaps they all simply wander down to the local pub and fortify themselves while all this blows over and they can return to their rooms at Fawlty Towers.

If you are a guest staying at a hotel, do you check and memorise your safe evacuation procedure? How about at your place of work or at home? Would you know how to safely get out by two different routes, your primary and secondary escape paths? Day 5 of this year’s September is Preparedness Month 2016 campaign #30days30waysUK was on #PlanYourEscape.

Day14 #30days30waysUK discussed that emergencies not only happen during the day. You may need to evacuate in the middle of the night. There may be hazards such as smoke, broken glass, debris or rubble you may only dimly be aware of. There may be a power cut.


It makes sense to be better prepared for ‘self-evacuation’

  • make your home ‘safe evacuation plan’ with primary and secondary escape routes from every room and share it with everyone in your household
  • under your bed, put a pair of sturdy shoes and a torch
  • have an emergency kit (i.e. GoBag) for safe evacuation that you can grab at a moment’s notice
  • practise your plan

And before I leave you, here is an excellent video from Canada that demonstrates the importance of a fire escape plan.

Self-evacuation is not just important at home but also at your place of work or study; more about that next time.

Have a great week. Be prepared, not scared.


The ‘evacuation’ series continues with posts on mass evacuation and a special look at tall buildings evacuation. Follow blog category ‘Safe Evacuation’ on the right hand navigation.

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20 thoughts on “Safe Evacuation – what exactly does safe self evacuation look like?

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