Fire Evacuation Procedure in a Care Home

Posted in Care Home Fire Safety Guide Commercial Fire Fire Safety on 25 August 2017

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Everyone has the right to be evacuated safely during an emergency. This includes the most vulnerable occupants of care homes, hospitals, and any other premises that contain people with impairments that could hinder their escape.

Fire Evacuation Procedure in a Care Home

Each and every fire situation is different. Therefore, each and every care home premises will need to devise their own personalised fire evacuation procedure. In care premises, evacuations fall into three categories:

  • Single-stage: If all residents are deemed independent of help, all residents can evacuate immediately with minimal assistance.
  • Progressive horizontal: Occasions when most residents are dependent on staff assistance for a successful evacuation. This may have to be done in stages, first moving residents from fire zones to safe zones, and finally to outside of the premises.
  • Delayed: In some cases, it is potentially dangerous to immediately evacuate certain residents who have complex needs. Instead, they may be allowed to remain in their rooms while the fire is put out. These are rare cases, and often additional structural precautions in these patients’ bedrooms may have to be considered.

Whatever the fire evacuation plan in your residential care home, speed, and safety are the main priorities.

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Fire Evacuation Plans

Create your fire evacuation plan, or strategy, only after the fire risk assessment for the care home has been completed. By law, risk assessments must be reviewed annually – in response to this, fire evacuation plans should also be reviewed annually. Consider these points when creating your fire evacuation plan:

  • Assess Your Residents: When conducting a fire risk assessment, residents should be rated as independent, dependent, and very high dependency. Most residents will be categorised as ‘dependent’, with the other two categorisations used in rarer cases. Higher dependency residents should be housed on ground floors, whenever possible.
  • Note Changes: Any new residents and their specific needs should be incorporated into the evacuation plans as soon as possible, as should any changes to staff rotas or alterations to building layout or contents.
  • Be Vigilant: As your eyes and ears on the ground, your staff must have a role to play in the changing of evacuation strategies. Make sure they are mindful of anything that could change the current plans already set in place, and take steps to review them to keep everybody safe.
  • Ease of Movement: Handling, lifting and transportation of residents may be different during evacuation than in situations in daily life. Distance travelled must also be considered when moving residents, as must the level of training of staff and the expected degree of cooperation from certain residents.
  • Training: Residents will be relying on the skills and expertise of staff for a successful evacuation. Therefore fire safety training in care homes is vital for getting staff educated in evacuation procedures.
  • Medical Implications: Issues to consider should include: Are there any muscular or neurological conditions to factor in? What is the resident’s weight? Can a resident tackle stairs without assistance?
    Will medication, such as sleep medication, hinder their exit? Will they need to take medication with them before evacuating? Where is evacuation equipment located relative to those that need it?
  • Personalised Evacuation: Residents with problems that could hamper their escape will need to have their own Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan, or PEEP, created especially for them.

Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEPs)

Evacuation isn’t easy for everyone. Disabled, elderly, or less mobile people will often need special assistance during an emergency evacuation. A Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) is a bespoke evacuation strategy created to account for a specific person’s individual circumstances.

  • PEEPs should be produced for every resident that requires them but should work in partnership with the existing Fire Evacuation Strategy for the care home (which deals with more general aspects of evacuation).
  • The individual in question should be included in the drawing up of the PEEP, if possible.
  • Always make sure to test the PEEP every time you hold a fire drill. Note any issues with its delivery, and make changes to the PEEP to tackle any arising problems.
  • When designing a PEEP, an example of questions to ask should include: what methods of assistance will be available, what equipment is needed for evacuation, what the exit procedure will be, the room location of the resident, and the alert system available for individual e.g. existing fire alarm or call button.
  • PEEPs need to be shared with all staff, and it may be wise to keep a summary in the resident’s bedroom for reference.

This resource provides useful PEEP templates that deal with subjects such as how to evacuate someone in a wheelchair or someone who has other impediments. For more detail on PEEP templates, see our fire safety checklist article.

Fire Action are fire safety specialists and equipment suppliers with 16 years’ experience. In addition to our range of fire extinguishers and alarm systems, we also conduct fire risk assessments and fire safety training to get your staff ready to manage a fire emergency. To find out how we can help your residential care home in the Kent and South East region, just get in touch with our team today.


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