Casino fires or any other emergency can put the life of guests and employees on the line as well as causing significant structural damage and the interruption of business. As a casino owner, it is up to you to ensure both your guests and employees are evacuated in a safe and orderly manner when disaster strikes. You must have a drawn-up plan, the employees must be briefed regularly on handling these kinds of emergencies, and regular drills should be conducted to determine the effectiveness of those plans.
So how do you go about those plans?
The following guidelines can serve as a checklist to help casinos go about their fire safety programs and crisis control as well as protect against the threat of human injury or loss of life, property damage and loss of business.
1. Practicing preventative maintenance
One of the first steps that casinos can take towards crisis prevention and control is having emergency lights, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, exit signs, alarms, and kitchen suppression systems in place and on-site for guests and staff safety. Another important factor in this guideline for casinos is finding a certified and licensed fire inspection company to collaborate with for conducting routing testing, inspection, and maintenance of fire and emergency protection equipment. This will go a long way in ensuring that all the installed equipment will work effectively in case of an emergency.
2. Maintaining the right documentation
It is essential for casinos have on-site all the proper documentation of all the emergency protection equipment installed. These documents serve as a constant reminder and a checklist of the important equipment. In addition, in case of a crisis, insurance adjusters require documentation, as well as the local, state, and federal authorities to show proof of up-to-date certifications and inspections.
3. Training the employees
The emergency protective equipment would be useless if the employees do not know how to use them in case of an emergency. For maximum protection, your employees need to undergo emergency training such as using the fire extinguishers. This training could be done periodically, for instance, on an annual basis. Organize training programs to include education on the different types of emergencies, review of emergency procedures, and escape routes.
4. Creating an emergency prevention plan
All casinos should have emergency prevention plans in writing kept in the workplace where the employees will access it for review. The basic elements that should be in the plan include:
• A list of all the major emergency and fire hazards as well as the hazardous materials in the casino
• Storage procedures and proper handling of the hazardous materials
• The type of emergency and fire protection equipment required to control the listed hazards
• Procedures for regular maintenance of the equipment
• The job title or names of employees responsible for maintaining this equipment
• The job title or names of employees responsible for controlling the fuel source hazards for fire safety
5. Creating an emergency action plan
Although nobody wants to respond to an emergency, it is much easier when everyone knows their duties and responsibilities and how to go about them. The scout motto of “be prepared” should be followed by every casino as the key to crisis prevention. An emergency action plan includes emergency escape route and procedures – usually illustrated by the work-area maps or floor plans- an explanation of medical first aid duties and rescue as well as a roll call system.
Unannounced drills should be performed at least twice a year to help the employees familiarize themselves with the exit strategies and the outdoor meeting areas. The drills should include all the departments, and shifts and a headcount should be conducted each time.
6. Creating an emergency response team
Other than training the employees and conducting drills to learn emergency action plans, it is also important to put up an emergency response team. The team should undergo emergency preparedness training such as handling fire emergencies. The team should have the willingness to aid others during an emergency, guide them to safety as well as be able to enforce emergency prevention and safety methods within the casino.
It is also important to designate someone the primary responsibility of disseminating information to employees, guests, news media, or anywhere else applicable. The person selected should be present, reliable, and able to react quickly in case of an emergency.
7. Ensuring proper housekeeping
Proper housekeeping is vital for casinos, especially for fire emergencies. By proper housekeeping it means;
• Use metal containers with tight-fitting lids to dispose of trash and packing materials
• Placing extra equipment and storage away from the aisles and fire exits
• Also, the equipment, storage, and hazardous materials should not be stacked so high such that they interfere with the automatic sprinkler systems
• Clean up of oils and chemical spills should take place immediately
What an actual evacuation procedure in a casino should look like when emergency strikes
After all, is said and done, and the guidelines above have been followed, what happens when the actual emergency occurs? Here is an emergency evacuation procedure that a casino can follow in case of an emergency.
• When danger strikes, the evacuation alarm is sounded, or the emergency response team should give instructions for everyone to cease all activity and secure their personal valuables.
• The response team or instructed employees should assist anyone in immediate danger, but only if it is safe to do so.
• If practical, and also if safe to do so, the response team or employees should secure any process or activity that may suffer damage or become hazardous if left unattended as a consequence of the evacuation.
• All employees, as well as the guests, should be able to act per the directions given by the emergency response team and evacuate the building immediately.
• The employees should assist with the general evacuation if the emergency response team directs them to do so.
• The emergency response team or the employees should assist with the evacuation of disabled occupants.
• In case the emergency is a fire, everyone should avoid using the lift to evacuate the casino since it might be dangerous.
• The response team and the instructed employees should help everyone move calmly to the previously selected evacuation assembly point, and no one should leave the assembly point until given the all-clear.
• Everyone should follow any other instructions by relevant emergency response personnel dutifully.
For a more successful evacuation procedure, every casino manager should ensure that there are emergency procedure diagrams placed within the casino building at all relevant places where employees and guests alike can see them. The diagrams should illustrate the emergency action plan mentioned above and should show emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers, the locations of emergency exits as well as maps for both the emergency assembly points and evacuation routes.
Being proactive about emergency preventions such as dealing with fire will go a long way in helping casinos protect their most valuable asset – the guests- and at the same time, it delivers increased peace of mind.
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