When it comes to preparing for emergencies, seconds matter and so do the lives you will save. I have a few pet peeves when it comes to emergency planning, here they are:
- false alarm
- your exit
- it’s just a drill
Just about any psychologist on the planet worth their salt will tell you that words matter. And the above phrases are just a few examples of how the general public and staff delay response time or get themselves in serious trouble when an emergency starts.
First, there is no such thing as a false alarm. The alarm worked like it was supposed to. And that should be your cue to get moving. Standing around trying to figure out if there is a real fire or not costs you life-saving-seconds.
Time and time again, I have seen people who are holding a meeting on the 7th floor return to the 9th floor so they can go out their exit. There is no such thing as your exit. The exit you should use is the one that is nearest you and is safe. Period.
It’s just a drill
This is similar to a false alarm, the only difference is that instead of sitting back waiting to determine if it is real, we take our time in executing the emergency plan. While it is not as bad as thinking it is a false alarm, it does reduce your reaction time and those seconds could save lives. Remember, there is no “is it real or is it Memorex”.
The bigger picture
The bigger picture here is that these three phrases end up sending a visual and verbal message to students and staff – that they should wait and see. And when people are waiting to see what will happen then everyone falls in line withe crowd mentality and no one moves. If you are a safety professional or risk manager, you need to remove these three phrases from your vocabulary. It just could be the difference between life and death.