Emergency response: Chances are, people will under-react

by on February 3, 2015 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network
evacuation plan wash state

Most people will shut down in an emergency and delay reacting, waiting to see what others will do. As a result, they may wait too long to be rescued. That’s according to John Leach, a professor at the University of Portsmouth, U.K., as reported in a BBC story.

In disaster situations, such as fire or terrorism, most people (about 75%) struggle to get their bearings and find it difficult to choose any course of action. About 10% panic. And about 15% choose a course of action and attempt to survive. Leach says that he has to train people to remember to survive.

As a safety director, you know the kinds of emergency-response events are likely to be fires, or chemical releases, or possibly something like an earthquake. The best option to prevent these natural reactions is training – people need to be trained, and practice evacuation, including how to get out of the building and where to wait outside the building post-evacuation.

One note: Studies have shown that people start to panic when they run into a third obstacle. That is, if the first exit is blocked, and the second, and the third, they are unable to be able to think of a fourth. As difficult as it might be, drills should include up to four evacuation routes.

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