Pro Tips for Shelter & Evacuation Management

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Pro Tips for Shelter & Evacuation Management

By Jessie States | Jan 17, 2020

Evacuation and sheltering-in-place are essential elements included in Emergency Action Plans, including those provided by your venues and facilities. Making the decision to evacuate, shelter-in-place or relocate during an incident is a complicated process and requires input from various entities knowledgeable in the structure of the space; the size, distribution and condition of participants; the hazard involved; and the anticipated response to that hazard. Hence, the decision should be made with input from all parties.

Identify who has the authority to make the decision to evacuate, shelter-in-place or relocate, along with how it will be communicated, and have pre-defined rally point(s) determined to convene if a decision is necessary. Ask venue staff about the following, and have the answers documented in your plans.

  • Their evacuation job duties

  • Evacuation routes

  • Nearest fire extinguishers

  • Nearest exits

  • Alternatives for potentially blocked exits

  • Shelter-in-place locations, spaces or points

Related Certificate Courses:
Emergency Preparedness for Events Certificate Program
Event Crisis Communications

The size of your event will define how complex this plan is, but all events require evacuation/sheltering plans. Prior to initiating an evacuation, take into consideration the inherent risks associated with moving people from one place to another.

  • Sometimes the best course of action is not to evacuate, or to partially evacuate, and sometimes shelter-in-place or relocation is the best option.

  • Determine the least invasive and most effective method to evacuate attendees from potentially dangerous conditions (including partial evacuations).

  • Evacuation planning should be based on a risk assessment that takes time and distance into account.

Think through the process and preplan, as the decision will likely depend upon situation. Know your options. And remember: Social media could outpace your communications if decisions are not made in a timely fashion.



Jessie States
Jessie States

Jessie States, CMP, CMM, is the Director of the MPI Academy for Meeting Professionals International, where she leads and advances MPI’s professional development strategy, developing and managing MPI’s portfolio of educational products delivered through all channels, including live and digital events, educational experiences, professional certificate programs and through educational partnerships.