Every day companies must prioritize dozens of projects and initiatives and often, emergency preparedness falls to the wayside in favor of more pressing issues. However, any organization that’s ever suffered a calamitous event would urge you to prepare as soon as possible.
If your company is as busy as most, then it probably never seems like the “right time” to spend on emergency preparation. The storm may or may not come and might not be as big of a problem as unpredictable weather forecasts indicate while project deadlines are looming today.
But, have you ever heard stories from those who were unprepared when disaster struck? The consequences of not having prepared are devastating.
What’s more: The spring and summer seasons now upon us bring the greatest risk of severe weather and of fires. If ever there was a time to review some basic protocols, this is it.
It doesn’t need to be a three-hour company-wide assembly. The basic points of emergency preparation are fairly simple and they don’t require much time to be communicated and understood. The fact is it’s essential that everyone knows what to do, and under what circumstances.
Ready.gov offers extensive information on how to prepare for thunderstorms, floods, and tornadoes as well as the protocols to implement when they occur. Some of them may be intuitive– like going to small interior rooms or hallways – while others may be contrary to what you’ve heard.
So bring your team together and soon. It doesn’t have to take long, but here is what you need to cover to ensure everyone is ready:
- Educate employees where severe weather shelters are located and the quickest routes to them. Shelters should be located in interior rooms, bathrooms or hallways on the lowest floor. Also, these areas should not have windows or equipment that could cause injury during high wind or electrical storms. Place a sign on these areas to help identify them quickly.
- Keep tuned to your radio, TV or mobile apps for weather updates when severe weather has been forecast.
- Discourage employees from leaving your facility once severe weather hits.
- Make sure that only one person is designated to make a sweep of all rooms for stragglers after everyone has been notified to move to shelter.
- If you are caught outside or in a vehicle, get out of the vehicle and seek lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression. Do not try to outrun a tornado with a car.
Before you conduct a drill:
- Make sure everyone knows how the drill will be conducted, including familiarity with what the alarm looks and sounds like.
- Whether you intend to use an intercom, bullhorn or automatic system, pick one and stick with it.
- Ensure employees know where to exit and where evacuation zones are located.
- Set up a timeframe for conducting a drill, but make it spontaneous enough that employees will be somewhat off guard.
- If it is safe to do so, have one person designated to make a sweep of all rooms for stragglers after everyone has been notified to move to the evacuation zone.
- Conduct a head count of all employees in the evacuation zone.
- Allow employees back into the building only after the designated person has given the “all clear” signal.
Now that you’ve conducted the drills, you should critique them. The best-laid plans rarely play out in practice exactly the way you intend. What problems arose? What surprised you? What adjustments do you need to make?
Once you’ve answered those questions, make sure your final plan is written down and communicated to every employee to help them be ready if and when the real thing occurs.
The most important thing is that you are prepared because you never know when a disaster will strike. Contact AccessPoint’s Safety & Risk Department for help and information.