How quickly your company can get back to business after a terrorist attack or tornado, a fire or flood often depends on emergency planning done today. Though each situation is unique, any organization can be better prepared if it plans carefully, puts emergency procedures in place, and practices for all kinds of emergencies.
Once potential risks and hazards have been assessed, planning on how to respond is next. Emergency planning
will include processes and procedures for assigning roles and responsibilities of employees, deciding to evacuate or shelter in place, and designating escape routes and safe rooms.
Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the disaster, the first important decision after an incident occurs is whether to shelter-in-place or evacuate. You should understand and plan for both possibilities in advance by developing clear, well thought out plans. If you are specifically told by local authorities to evacuate, shelter-in-place, or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.
Some disasters will require employees to leave the workplace quickly. The ability to evacuate workers, customers and visitors effectively can save lives. If feasible, develop a system for knowing who is in your building, including customers and visitors. If you have employees with disabilities ask them what assistance, if any, they requires. Decide in advance who has the authority to order an evacuation. Identify who will shut down critical operations and lock the doors, if possible. Create a chain of command so that others are authorized to act in case your designated person is not available.
Plan two ways out of the building from different locations throughout your facility. Post maps with emergency routes clearly marked for quick reference by employees. Designate an assembly site. Pick one location near your facility and another in the general area in case you have to move farther away. Try to account for all workers, visitors and customers as people arrive at the assembly site. Determine who is responsible for providing an all-clear or return-to-work notification.
There may be situations when it’s best to stay where you are to avoid any uncertainty outside. There are other circumstances, such as a chemical incident or during a tornado when specifically how and where you take shelter is a matter of survival. Determine where you will take shelter during an emergency. Go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible of a building. Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they attract debris. Stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.
The right emergency supplies
are a vital component to any emergency plan. Think first about the basics of survival: water, food, clean air, and warmth. Talk to co-workers about building portable kits to meet individual needs such as medications.
Just as your business changes over time, so do your preparedness needs. When you hire new employees or when there are changes in how your company functions, you should update your plans and inform your people. As a best practice, your emergency plan should be reviewed annually and updated as needed.