From UFStarfleet Wiki
An escape pod, life pod, or evacuation pod is a small capsule found aboard most starships that are used in the event that the ship is damaged and pending destruction. Starfleet vessels have enough escape pods to evacuate the entire crew and any non-Starfleet personnel.
In the event of a ship-wide catastrophe, the pods can be launched as a last resort to save the crew. Once deployed, the pods are vulnerable to attack or becoming engulfed in the destruction of the parent ship. As in other types of Starfleet escape craft, the pods are equipped with thrusters, providing some chance of fleeing the field of combat. However, without warp drive, survivors are reliant on larger ships for ultimate rescue.