High Holidays: Are you ready to get out if you have to?
It’s happened more than once…a fire in a synagogue during High Holiday services. Bomb threats and suspicious packages … you have a plan, but fires?
Most people tend to exit through the door they entered. In an emergency, if people don’t use all of the doors there will be bottlenecks leading to injuries or worse. With a little bit of planning and rehearsal this problem can be readily mitigated.
- We all have seen the “cards in the seat pockets in front of you” on a plane. Simply figure out how to divide your sanctuary spaces so that all of the exits will be used and create a chart like the one below (add some instructions), reproduce it and stick it in the pockets in front of the pews.
- No one expects you to conduct a fire drill on Yom Kippur, but you can ask your ushers and key staff to attend a rehearsal meeting in advance of services. Discuss your plans and their roles with them ahead of time.
- Pre-write directions that should be kept on the bimah. In the event of an emergency you shouldn’t count on people to call an “audible” (i.e., improvise).