Evacuation Diagrams and Plans allow occupants to quickly get the information they need to evacuate in the event of an emergency. It is therefore important to have these diagrams displayed inside any given building, as this component can save lives. But there are specific requirements that need to be included in these plans such as the current location of the viewer and the nearest escape route. It also requires specific design elements such as font size, colour and even page sizing. 

General Requirements 

There are specific elements that should be included in the escape plans before considering and implementing the design requirements. The fire safety manuals and producers should be indicated along with the current site and facility drawings. These are usually an exterior bird’s eye view of the site plan and architectural plans of the interior of the building. 

All escape routes should be identified on all plans and the location of fire equipment and alarms are to be identified. Emergency evacuation instructions should be present on the evacuation plans accompanied by the location of assembly points and refuge areas. Evacuation planning documentation includes expected people movement and any instructions given and the way they are to be given.

Design Requirements


All escape plans shall use colour, it is to clearly identify different elements of the plan. Red will indicate emergency information such as emergency contact details, signage and actions to take in case of an emergency. Even the background of the plans is important, it is required that the background of the plans should be white or phosphorescent white so that the other information stands out. 

The directional arrows themselves are also required to be a safety green according to ISO 3864-1 and the escape routes shall also be highlighted in light green so that it is contrasting with the arrows. Safety signs indicated on the plans should be reproduced in the safety colours according to ISO 3864-1. 

The outline of the facility’s structural elements shall have a black outline. The header of the escape plans is also required to be in safety green and the text shall be in a contrasting colour. While any other information and text shall be black, however other colours could be used for highlighting purposes. 

Titles and Texts

All designed escape plans should have a standardized header, that includes the words “Escape Plan” in the language of the country in which it will be used. So for South Africa, the appropriate language to use is English. Upper- and lower-case letters may be used for the header of the plans. 

A legend is also a requirement of escape plans. The legend shall give the meaning and information of the safety signage, graphical symbols and colour coding that is used on the plans. 

One of the goals of an escape plan is to provide information to the viewer, along with the emergency evacuation instructions, and emergency contact details of the areas should be indicated on the diagrams. Other information shall also be a part of the plan, such as the plan designer, name of the facility, floor level of the building, date of the design and revision number and the plan number. The minimum text height size shall be 2 mm and fonts shall be chosen that maximize the legibility of the text at a distance. 


The exact location of the user shall be indicated on the plans with a “you are here” or location icon. The orientation of the plan as displayed shall be related to the viewer so that locations on the left of the plan are to the viewer’s left and locations on the right of the plan are to the viewer’s right. When any safety signage or fire equipment is indicated on the plans, it should be the same as the signage installed in the building and at the correct location as installed in the building. The assembly points shall also be indicated on the plans and at the same location as located on the premises. 


The information represented on the plans must be legible at a viewing distance. The smallest printing size that can be used for escape plans is the standard A3 page size (297 x 420 mm). The plans can be larger than an A3, however, the height of the headers and capital letter sizing will differ. See below the sizing of printed escape plans: 

297 × 420 (A3)2972113
420 × 594 (A2)4203018
594 × 841 (A1)5944226
841 × 1 189 (A0)8415936

Physical Requirements

Materials of plans 

One should consider the materials that will be used for the printing of the plans, such as the ink and materials themselves. It should be durable enough to withstand environmental influences at the installed site. The material should be durable enough so that elements such as lighting and humidity would not affect the physical plans. 

Location of Installations

The escape plans are required to be displayed in conspicuous locations so that it is accessible and readable for the intended user. These plans are to be permanently fixed or mounted at a point where the occupants can learn the means of escape. The escape plans shall be installed at strategic points, for example on every floor at the main entry points, closely located to stairs or lifts, in every room, at appropriate training points and at principal junctions and intersections.  

Our Services

Cairnmead provides Evacuation Diagrams in addition to the Emergency Preparedness Procedures. This is to inform occupants of the building/ premises of emergency exits, fire equipment and emergency assembly points. These Evacuation Diagrams also indicate who to call in the event of an emergency.

Contact us to find out more:

Christof Lourens

CEO Cairnmead Industrial Consultants (Pty) Ltd

Tel: 012 346 5752 | Email: christof@cairnmead.co.za

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