Supermarket Shopping Habits And Impact On Evacuation Times Construction Essay

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The relationship between human behavoiur while in a building is very complex and it affects evacuation process in many ways. It is with this concept in mind that the study below outlines how the two relate and affect each other. The report below outlines a study carried out in city supermarket in London and it is a sample of what happens in many buildings around the world. In this study a questionnaire was drafted in a manner that the major factors that determine evacuation success are all considered and gauged.

A simple drill was also undertaken on a Saturday afternoon so that a number of cameras, CCTV cameras and video cameras could capture the ideal situation of what an evacuation process could be like. Apart from that, other relevant information was collected from government officials, customers, supermarket managers/owners and emergency/first aid providers around. The major results and findings obtained from this research are; many customers do not respond to alarm with the seriousness it deserves but nonetheless, they have a high social affiliation towards safety. In addition, many supermarket owners/managers are willing to invest in fire protection equipment and implement policies on evacuation and disaster management.

Studies and research have indicated that a building evacuation is considered successful if the Required Safe Evacuation Time is shorter than the Available Safe Egress Time. In this case, the Available Safe Egress Time can be described as the time period between the occurrences of a cataclysmic incident and the commencement of indefensible conditions for a building.

Estimation times available in records that conform with the time for safe egress time usually involve a lot of analysis that are tenable, for example, the time which is noted shortly before the layer of smoke gets to a certain height. It can also consider the amount of time taken before cumulative or instantaneous effects to people are envisaged to result in incapacity.

On the other hand, the Required Safe Evacuation Time is defined in our case as the time needed for the last shopper to leave the supermarket/building which in simply terms can be referred to as the time to evacuate everybody in the building to a safe destination. In order to predict the Required Safe Evacuation Time, it involves the estimation of time that might take to notify the shoppers that there is danger which in many cases is fire or bombs. Secondly, it would involves the time that people would take for pre-movement hustle and bustle which include checking on family members, alerting other shoppers among other activities.

This paper therefore focuses on the behavoiur of shoppers and how to evaluate that behavoiur in such a way that there is highest Available Safe Egress Time which in other words centre on the response time and the evacuation time. The behavoiur of shoppers in panic situations and in normal times are to be considered in this paper. Where the impulsive evacuation time provided in a given supermarket may permit the identification of critical points used in escape.

The supermarket under study is a five storey building that houses many more shops and mini offices in the third and second floors and it was chosen to represent many more supermarkets that would have similar designs. The supermarket departments occupied both the ground and first floors of the building. The cashier, customer care, food hall and household departments were on the ground floor while the ladies, men's and children's wear were all located at the first floor including other beauty shops. There are stairs and a lift from all the floors and the entry and exit points are located on the ground floor of the building. The basement is acting as parking lot for those with vehicles and there is a straight lift to the basement. There are two exits and two entry points on the ground floor which makes it easier for the shoppers to move out easily.

In conducting this research, a small drill was undertake by a team of researchers who assisted me undertake an unannounced evacuation. The process and preparations of the evacuation started with providing information and liaising with those private and government companies providing emergency and first aid services. All members of the public and staff of the supermarket were not aware of the 'fake fire emergency' except for the manager and his deputies, designated staff safety officers and first aid providers. The time for the evacuation was agreed upon by the manager and owners of the supermarket with my team of researchers and it was conducted over the weekend on Saturday in the afternoon. The shoppers were alerted via alarm bells and the whole process recorded via cameras and video cameras, CCTV cameras to capture number of shoppers per department, behavoiur of shoppers and evacuation time. This was carried out so that the behaviour of shoppers could be easily and thoroughly analysed. Through this shopping habits of male and female customers could be analysed and compared. Through this, it would be quite easy to know their impact on evacuation times. Through the use of CCTV cameras, the behaviour of friends and families in the supermarket can be analysed and their overall impact on evacuation times. This also relates to how supermarket assistants influence shopping behaviour of customers in the supermarket during an emergency.

There is no doubt that, evacuation is the basic element in emergency event in buildings. Moreover, evacuation in an emergency is always an important issue for shopping malls, sup way stations and others indoor places (fire safety journals 44.(2009) 732-740. p732) also the aims of evacuation is to evacuate people from danger area via exits within the shortest time (fire safety journals 44 (2009), but there are many factors that have effect on evacuation time such as un familiarity with building and familiar building for example, commercial and industrial premises, colleges and schools these premises have awake and predominantly familiar with buildings (fire safety journals 35 (2000) 25-49).

On the other hand, shops, exhibitions, museums, leisure centres and other assembly buildings are unfamiliar premises to evacuate because people do not have background with escape routs and alarms (fire safety journals 35 (2000) 25-49). In addition, disable people cannot move smoothly especially people with wheelchairs because they will obstruct with many things such as threshold (fire safety journals 35 (2000) 25-49)

Evacuation time in supermarket is affected by shopping habits which is also affected by human psychology and/or behaviour in evacuation for example, this phenomenon is very common during real evacuation people from the same family especially if they try to gather together first then evacuate altogether also people in same room do same. This usually happens because of panic and also they think it is easier to find exit if they follow the anterior in on direction (science direct physical A 387 (2008) 3708-3718 p 3709

This is more so because fire outbreaks are normally emergency cases and they result in a lot of panic among shoppers. At this point the shoppers do not reason at all. Mothers look out for their children and vice versa. Couples who were in different areas of the supermarket run about looking for their spouses first before they think of evacuating the building. Some of the shoppers rush to get their essential items before they start evacuating the premises.

In addition, the staff in supermarket must have taken courses in evacuation to help people who are shopping in the supermarket also evacuation signs make evacuation difficult because some of people do not have good background of the evacuation signs also the type of supermarkets effect in evacuation.

2.1 The phases of an evacuation process

There are many features that define the response of shoppers or any occupants of a building during catastrophic events. It has been found out that some time is usually lost before people are fully aware that there is really danger in a building and this is one of the most important aspects of evacuation. This is highly due to the fact that many shoppers do not have any prior knowledge on how they should behave in case of a fire outbreak when they are in a supermarket. It is therefore imperative that people need to change their behavoiur so that they are sensitive to unfortunate events that occur in day to day life experience.

It has even been a concern to building owners that most people when they are in a building do not apprehend themselves with emergency situations but they would rather pre-occupy their minds with commitments of their own. Research has shown that many shoppers in supermarkets don't pay attention to fire emergency signs in the premises. They are instead pre-occupied with shopping and checking out for whatever they desire to buy or just see within the supermarkets. This plays a great role in their behaviour during fire outbreaks.

It is with this idea in mind that I have decided to undertake to study the behavoiur of shoppers so as to help them recognize the importance of being alert and sensitive to emergencies. In fact, there is something called the "friendly fire syndrome" that is very dangerous if it is not handled with utmost care. This syndrome makes feel that they are not initially in danger hence they are not in a hurry to respond to any alert or distress call that is usually made in case there is any danger.

A report prepared in the year 1992 by the on 'human behavoiur in fires' indicated that there are several factors that dictate the time of evacuation. They include;

There is the pre-movement time that is a process beginning at a certain cue or alarm and ending with exit door. The components that characterize this process consist of the recognition of danger and the response that comes up after recognizing the first component.

2) The time to travel to an exit door and through that exit is a very important factor that is highly dependant on the number of people in the building and the resultant chaos in the building which is a direct outcome of human behavoiur during evacuation that comes up in panic state of affairs.

Typically the human behavoiur in a building will affect the either the exit choice behavoiur or the pedestrian flow when an emergency occurs. This definitely affects the time that shoppers take to evict the building.

2.2 Effects of environment on human behavoiur

The environmental configuration plays a crucial role in determining the constraints and efficiency of facilitating the evacuation time in a building. By environment we mean the morphology of a certain building that incorporate the space available, signage systems, alarm systems, exit options among other factors.

In order therefore, to understand how this environment affects human behavoiur in relation to evacuation, it is important to study this environment critically. First, it is good to appreciate the fact that emergencies do occur in real life and therefore many buildings would need to have designs that allow for easy evacuation processes.

Secondly, this environment may not be having the correct facilities that old people, children or children may require in case of an emergency or an evacuation. In this case, it is important to point out that such environment is critical in evacuation efficiency. The third point in this typographical issue is the need to have clear signs that show shoppers on how to go. If the place is too crowded also, the behavoiur of people when an emergency occurs changes as compared to when the building has enough space for people to scramble their way out. As in many cases, this scrambling may lead to serous injuries and even death if the commotion is not controlled.

2.3 The time taken to travel through an exit

This is normally calculated as the average period taken by a person to move from the point he or she stands to the point of exit. It is the most important factor when it comes to the evacuation process. The shorter this time, the higher the efficiency of evacuation is and thus the higher the chance of saving more lives.

2.4 Building design and safety

Building design and safety is an issue that has become a hot and that it is being discussed with a lot of passion and researches are busy conducting researches to evaluate this concern. Fear of chaos occurring in buildings have affected many people, even though, there is varied responses in respect to perceived increase of building fires and the resultant effects, many building designers and policy makers have responded to the increase in building insecurity. In order to improve the building safety, many building designers have implemented varied security measures such as installation of monitored security equipments and systems to reduce chances of uncontrolled fires occurring. On the other hand, everybody has a responsibility in creating and also maintaining safety at buildings including shoppers and administrators

Building owners are also supposed to implement assessment and evaluation measures /policies that suggest that they will ensure best practices in buildings, in order to enhance building safety. In many states there are laws requiring building engineers in conjunction with owners to carry out self assessment safety measure and security in order to enhance best practices will ensure building safety. According to commissioner of education, the best practices can be divided into six main areas; the best practices will include a wide range of building safety objectives.

The six main goals of best practices are:

Safety and security programs are supposed to be clear in their direction, efficient and also valuable.

Buildings are supposed to have a comprehensive safety and security procedures and policies.

To ensure that buildings have an understandable code of ethics of shoppers and the code should be communicated to shoppers and other visitors using the building.

Structural designers are supposed also to identify, reduce and protect other buildings from spreading fires which may be disastrous when a catastrophe occurs.

A different objective is to ensure that the building facilities together with equipments are secure and are in perfect working condition especially water tanks and fire fighting equipment.

2.5 Accountability safety programs

Building safety is improved through different means that can be assessed and measured; hence the designs of these buildings are required to establish mechanisms of accountability, which will ensure the building evacuation efficiency is guaranteed. Nonetheless, performances are monitored in order to maintain the safety levels of the building especially with routine check-ups and testing. Structural managers are also required to carry out frequent organizational arrangement reassessments as a means of enhancing the safety at the building. These reviews are geared towards identifying building personnel who requires to be trained in safety, at the same time; managers should provide a suitable level of training on safety for all building personnel in the building master plan for in-service training preparation. Safety is also enhanced in the compound by the buildings having proper equipments for protecting building property and also records

2.6 Building safety programs

Building safety programs which emphasize shoppers to be accountable build delinquency safety prevention and also intervention programs. In order to improve building programs building owners undertake programs for example building based probation on safety and protection. Such kind of programs in the building where the experienced personnel train probation officers who ensure safety in buildings and if require may offer first hand counselling those shoppers who may be confused or unsettling. Statistics have shown that building owners that have implemented such programs enhance the building safety a lot and have had issues with government officials. These programs are known to reduce lack of awareness and alertness in buildings, violence, intimidation, threats and other acts of violent behaviour in buildings. For the programs to be effective, shoppers, and parents need to be involved in the program. The community within the building also has to be involved in the building safety program.

2.7 Reliability programs

Building safety accountability programs which the buildings create and implemented in a comprehensive way enhance building safety. The building accountability programs need to incorporate various key elements. Some of the principles that form basis of accountability programs in building safety include; emphasizing on involvement of shoppers; there is no building safety program that can be successful if it does not involve shoppers. Even if the program is well developed and implemented, it will not enhance building safety without incorporating shoppers many owners for buildings enhance building safety by giving parents "contract" forms to sign on behalf of the shoppers.

These forms are supposed to administer and regulate the shoppers' conduct both academically and also socially. The "contract" forms are created by shoppers together with their parents in guidance of building teachers and other personnel of the building. To maintain building safety the shoppers are supposed to report cases of indiscipline to the authorities for the authorities to take action

2.8 Safe building and safe building planning

Safe buildings are buildings that ensure that they are taking all safety measures in according to requirements of the commissioners of buildings. In order to ensure safety in building the buildings need to build capacity that will support safety. The buildings also have to communicate to shoppers clear and direct messages about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in building, in case of shoppers breaking the building regulations then the building administration is supposed to make sure that the occupant adheres to the rules, and the rules are supposed to be enforced consistently by the building authorities, this will ensure that building safety is enhanced.

Figure 1. Evacuation route

Figure 1. Represents an evacuation route for a building that is determined or may be in a problem


The building authorities are also supposed to emphasize that shoppers should take responsibilities in any decision they are making, in making shoppers to understand that they are supposed to be responsible they become more accountable and take safe measures in their decisions. In accountability it is important also that the shoppers should be taught critical thinking techniques to enable the shoppers to consider carefully their decisions. Though, according to research carried out for this program to be more effective it is important to accord shoppers psychologists together with counsellors. When shoppers are well counselled their panic situations reduce and they become more responsible.

Though, buildings are safe others are susceptible to violence and crime, according to studies carried out many occupant say that the can easily get a gun to building. This issue calls for safety measure in buildings. In order for a supermarket to be safe then it has to implement measures and safety rules that guard against such activities. In the current building safety programs, proven programs that can be used to bring about safety in buildings are programs that incorporate the community together with parents in instilling the safety measures that are undertaken by the building

2.9 Best practices

Proper transportation of shoppers and their teachers is another way of enhancing building safety. Transport best practices requires that every building should have an area which has clear makings with signs that separate bus riders from car riders. Each building should have a safety plan for its shoppers when there arrive to building and when they also leave the building. The building is supposed to monitor the safety measures that is put in place concerning transport and ensure that the safety rule are being followed by both shoppers and their parents. Building also should have a no trespass policy applied to all buses.

Other best practices that the buildings undertake are, continuous training of building managers, and the training should be offered on regular basis. Safety training also involves the building personnel that deal in food services who are trained on safety of foods and meals being offered to shoppers. Buildings takes immediate action if an exception is realized by the inspector upon writing his/her reports on food safety. The exception is then incorporated in the training that will be offered in the next training session.

Shop practicing best practices gives an instant write up whenever shop personnel receive an injury when performing his/her duties at job. The training material will be updated in harmony to the injury received so that it can be used in future training classes. If there is need, the building cafeteria is informed and appropriate correction measures undertaken.

Another safety measure that is undertaken by "safe building" is contracting a professional body to come and carry out inspections on fire extinguisher equipments and give a report. The professional do undertake regular checks on fire extinguisher to make sure that they comply with safety procedures. Every shop has proper first aid equipments that are used in case of an urgent situation. A safe building should involve best practices of checking the building health rooms, first aid equipments and recommended any changes or improvements of the facilities. The buildings also ensures that proper safety equipments are available in those are that deal with chemicals for example, in the chemistry and woodwork.

The supermarkets and shops also ensure that other first aid materials are available for instance, band aids and eye wash. The building managers oversee training that are need of particularly safety measures that will ensure that shop personnel and shoppers' safety is enhanced. Other measures that are taken to enhance shop safety is requiring that every department should submit an annual report to the building managers, the report should also include a work sheet and a budget that outlines the equipments and also supplies that are required in ensuring that safety of shoppers in all buildings is taken into thoughtfulness and considered. Supermarkets can also enhance safety at building by engaging professions when the shops need to upgrade its safety and also its security gear

2.10 Using data to enhance building safety

While enhancing safety building process, various ways are used including assessment of data; the data may be gotten from research done in the building from the owners for of other buildings. Use of management information systems by the owners enables buildings managers to access data from the owners in pertaining different issues of safety. Data that is generated will be also be used by building when applying for grant, for example Safe and Free buildings grant requires data assessing discipline and other relevant data as documents that can be used to analyze the effectiveness of the process

The impact of integrating building safety data in evaluating building programs that reduce violence in building campus can be felt by buildings undertaking proper safety measure. Buildings are able to access and assess data reports and thus use them in improving areas that need to be improved and also coming up wit proper programs that have been proven to be working. In integrating the data into building programs buildings have been able to get support from the authorities and other bodies that are involved in buildings' safety. Buildings also have been able to get support form the society as the society has been able to view reports and statistics and support the building safety programs


3.0 Research design

This quantitative study will require the researcher to show how the shopping habits will affect the supermarkets in terms of evacuation and efficiency of rescuing people from the building in case of fires. The research will involve the interview of top supermarket managers within the city of London and their responses recorded in tables as shown later in this report. It will also include responses from shoppers who will be caught after a brief drill on evacuation.

The preceding are the results of the data collected regarding the response from club owners that from the time the smoking restriction policy was implemented, there is increased dines and dashes from the customers. The number of shoppers who strongly Agreed with the issue was 30% only while those who Agreed were 20%. 20% of them Disagreed while a further 30% strongly disagreed

The preceding are the results of the data collected regarding the response from supermarket owners that they are usually ready to implement their roles and responsibility just in case an emergency that requires evacuation happens to strike. The percentage of those managers who strongly agreed with the subject was 90% while those who agreed were 10%. None of the owners/managers disagreed or strongly disagreed.

The results above regard to the effectiveness of alarm systems and any other warning signs that guide shoppers and occupants through an evacuation process. The percentage of shoppers who strongly agreed with the subject was 80% while those who agreed were 20%. None of them either disagreed or strongly disagreed with that.


5.0 Recommendations

From the findings of this research, it the following recommendations can be pointed out; first, there is need to adopt proper policies and regulations that help during evacuation process. It is also recommended that proper training be undertaken by managers so that staffs are well aware of rescue and evacuation planning. During building construction and design, it is prudent that proper layout is included so that enough space is provided for evacuation.

5.1 Conclusion

In conclusion, the following findings were noted during the research. First, it is good to appreciate the fact that emergencies do occur in real life and therefore many buildings would need to have designs that allow for easy evacuation processes. The major results and findings obtained from this research are; many customers do not respond to alarm with the seriousness it deserves but nonetheless, they have a high social affiliation towards safety. In addition, many supermarket owners/managers are willing to invest in fire protection equipment and implement policies on evacuation and disaster management.