When an emergency occurs at your business, you and your employees must be ready to act. One key element of your emergency plan should include appropriate, useful, and simple emergency signage.
What constitutes good emergency signage? Here are four key elements.
1. Code Compliance
States and the federal government have certain requirements for business signage. Governmental agencies, like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), have specific rules about the fonts and colors of exit signage, instructions for exiting a building, and how to display exit signs.
OSHA and NFPA indicate the color scheme for warning signs as well as danger signs.
First and foremost, check with these agencies as well as state business oversight boards and local zoning agencies to make sure you understand what's required. If you design anything without knowing the mandatory features, you may lose time and money.
2. Simple Structure
Think about how people will use your signs. During an emergency, they'll be stressed, in a hurry, and possibly dealing with bad lighting issues. That means you should avoid providing too much information on signs and in infographics. The simpler the design and the fewer words, the better.
Make use of structures that are easy to read, including bullet points, bold words, and numbered steps. Keep emphasis to a minimum, though, or you risk emphasizing too much and confusing users. Test your sign's design and sentence structure by having outside parties read the material.
Never underestimate the value of adding icons and pictures to key sign elements. Cartoonish icons that are universal and simple help sign users identify quickly what they need to pay attention to.
For instance, if you have exit instructions in case of fire, use a fire icon or an exit sign icon to help people focus more immediately. Icons that are crossed out are helpful to let people know what to avoid, such as using the stairs, or where they should not go during an emergency.
Pictures shouldn't be complex, and they must be easy to comprehend. Don't get fancy with arrows, but use a clear, straight, block font, and no unnecessary lines. If giving instructions with arrows, use short, minimal words.
4. Digital Components
While most businesses think in terms of physical signs, emergency preparedness plans should include digital elements as well. Digital emergency aids come in two basic varieties: preparedness and response.
Digital components for preparedness should include longer instructions that employees and guests or clients can peruse at their leisure as well as mobile information in the form of digital documents, physical papers, and prepared booklets.
Use digital messaging to teach employees about potential hazards in your climate or industry, give detailed information on how to respond during an emergency, and suggest steps everyone should take to prepare. Use email or text, as appropriate for the length and urgency of each message.
Text alerts are a great way to share simple messages for things like evacuation, natural disaster alerts, or police activity. Set up a group messaging system in advance to share information with specific groups (such as managers or all departments in a particular building) as well as all employees. Send scheduled test messages once per month or quarter to work out bugs before an emergency hits.
In addition to texts and email messages, add emergency notifications and signs to monitors, company computers, business phones, and tablets.
Not sure where to begin with your emergency signage and plan? Start with a call today to Signsations in Fairfax, VA. No matter what information or directions you need to get across to users, we can help you create a great emergency sign to keep everyone safe and healthy.