Picture this: A building inspection officer shows up at your office and wants to know about your emergency plans—evacuation, fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and the like. What do you tell him? Would everyone in the office be able to explain where those things were and how to use them?
Well, if you don’t know the answers to those questions, perhaps it’s time to find out.
As with other types of emergency preparedness, preparedness at the office constitutes having an emergency evacuation/lockdown plan and being prepared with emergency supplies. Office personnel should be educated on how to implement these plans and know where to find the emergency supplies and how to use them, if possible.
Know where the exit is to your office building? Good—that’s a start, but “mass stampede to the door” does not constitute a very thorough evacuation plan. Even if you are a very small company in a tiny office, it’s a good idea to think through procedures for what you would do in case of emergency. After the attacks on 9/11, an estimated 13,000 to 15,000 people successfully evacuated the World Trade Centers, and it is thought that this can be attributed to improved evacuation plans after the 1993 fire. Don’t wait for the aftermath of an emergency to get prepared—while your evacuation plan may not be to such a large scale, you should know at the very least who should go to what exit in order t get everyone out quickly and safely and how to shut off gas, water, and electricity.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides a step-by-step guide (www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3088.pdf) on how to develop an emergency action plan for your workplace. According to the OSHA, not every business is required to have a plan, but emergencies can strike regardless of whether you’re required to have a plan or not, so every business would do well to have a plan to protect its personnel.
Basic office emergency supplies include a first-aid kit, a fire extinguisher, and a defibrillator, along with other supplies specific to your workplace (such as an eyewash station if you work with harmful chemicals, for instance). It’s also a good idea to be prepared for long-term emergency situations where employees may be trapped in the workspace for an extended period of time—Year Zero Survival Gear provides a full range of emergency kits that include food, lighting, hygiene supplies and more to sustain groups of people in these kinds of situations.
Unfortunately, emergencies don’t wait until after 5:00 to strike. Employ good preparedness principles and have peace of mind at home, at work, and at play.
Although this may not quite be your perfect 72 Hour Bug-Out Pack, it’s close. We would add 2 additional items, a hand gun and ammunition. (but can’t offer those)
14. Escape Backpack
One additional item not shown:
This is one illustration of the items you could consider for your own Bug-Out bag. We also carry pre-made Bug-Out bags ready when you are. Depending on your location and situation, you may want to add or delete items suggested here.
Bear in mind, this pack has all the elements to last you longer than 72 hours, with the exception of the food items, and your ability to find a source of water.
What would you add or remove from yours?
When Hurricane or “Super Storm” Sandy hit here last autumn, I didn’t have power for eleven days. I was one of the lucky ones, though — I still had my house, a gas-powered stove, and gas-heated water. Here’s what I learned about living without electricity.
- Headlamps are better than flashlights. Have one for each person.
- Large camping lanterns with fluorescent bulbs are great but be aware that they will only light up your immediate area. They also burn through batteries fast.
- Candles are traditional and don’t require batteries, but they also don’t provide much light.
- Another idea I’ve read about but haven’t yet tried is to charge up solar-powered LED garden lights during the day and distribute them around the house at night.
Refrigeration & Cooking
- If you’re not following Eve’s Tips for Living Without Refrigeration, you’ll want to get a cooler ready for your perishables. Alternatively, you can designate a freezer as your cooler. Organize your food so that you know what’s where and what you’re going to grab first.
- Freeze as much ice as possible — in containers, water bottles, and ice trays. If you can’t fit in or freeze all your bottles, fill them with drinking water. Set your fridge and freezer temperature settings to their coldest point.
- Bag your meat and ice cream to avoid a mess later.
- If you have the means to cook, plan and print your recipes before the power cuts.
- Once the power cuts, keep the fridge and freezer doors closed for at least a few hours. How long the temperature will stay down will depend on how full they are. Just be sure to grab the ice while it’s still frozen.
- Load up your cooler with the ice and your priority perishables. Open it as seldom as possible. Watch out for the inevitable leaks as the ice melts.
- Even after the ice has melted, the cold water and small size of the cooler will keep temperatures down.
- If you have a gas stovetop and a lighter or matches, you’re all set for cooking. You can make soups and stir-frys out of the last of your perishables, and then start on canned and packet meals. Even foods that don’t normally go in a pot can be heated by steaming them.
The worst part of a power outage in the late fall and winter months is losing your heat. A fireplace helps, but burning logs isn’t enough. Unless you’re already in an enclosed space, the warm air is going to be sucked away. To avoid this, you can create a temporarily enclosed space, for example by using some good tape and a few plastic painter’s drop sheets. If you manage to get your fireplace and stove into the same space, it helps to boil some water and steam up the room a little. However, it’s not wise to run gas heat in an enclosed space for long (and a gas fireplace shouldn’t be enclosed at all). Also, the steam will eventually soften up your walls.
- Your best tools for keeping in touch are a battery- or hand-crank- powered radio, a corded landline phone with a backup battery, and your cellphone. The landline will only last so long, but that way you can give your cellphone a rest before it’s needed.
- Charge up any laptops in your home. You may not have wifi after the power cuts, but they can be used to charge up any USB-powered devices, like your phone.
- Write down or print out any phone numbers and emergency information you may need (e.g. where the nearest shelters and pet shelters are).
- Solar power is a great resource if you have or can build a solar charger, but don’t hold your breath — it may take a long time to power your devices.
- Prepare for gas shortages by rationing the gas in your car if necessary. Walk or bike when you can.
- It’s not easy in the dark, without many of your usual creature comforts. But this is just another adventure, same as if you got on a plane to somewhere exotic. You’re a post-apocalyptic pioneer, reinventing to survive and living with the bare minimum.
- Go back to the basics — I like to have some good books to read (especially old favorites) and some pen and paper to scribble ideas and play word games. Others prefer a deck of cards and some board games.
- Clean clothes can do wonders. This is when your hand-washable, quick-drying travel clothes made of wool or synthetics really pay off.
Source: Off The Blueprint
In honor of National Preparedness Month some handy information from FEMA
ARE YOU READY? GUIDE
AN IN-DEPTH GUIDE TO CITIZEN PREPAREDNESS
Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness (IS-22) is FEMA’s most comprehensive source on individual, family and community preparedness. The guide has been revised, updated and enhanced in August 2004 to provide the public with the most current and up-to-date disaster preparedness information available.
What is Are You Ready?Open
Interactive course based on Are You Ready?Closed
Are You Ready? provides a step-by-step approach to disaster preparedness by walking the reader through how to get informed about local emergency plans, how to identify hazards that affect their local area and how to develop and maintain an emergency communications plan and disaster supplies kit. Other topics covered include evacuation, emergency public shelters, animals in disaster and information specific to people with access and functional needs.
Are You Ready? also provides in-depth information on specific hazards including what to do before, during and after each hazard type. The following hazards are covered: Floods, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Thunderstorms and Lightning, Winter Storms and Extreme Cold, Extreme Heat, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Landslide and Debris Flows (Mudslide), Tsunamis, Fires, Wildfires, Hazardous Materials Incidents, Household Chemical Emergencies, Nuclear Power Plant and Terrorism (including Explosion, Biological, Chemical, Nuclear and Radiological hazards).
Are You Ready? is also available in Spanish, and can be used in a variety of ways including as a read-through or reference guide. The guide can also be used as a study manual guide with credit awarded for successful completion and a 75 percent score on a final exam. Questions about the exam should be directed to the FEMA Independent Study Program by calling 1-800-238-3358 or by going to training.fema.gov/is.
Also available is the Are You Ready? Facilitator Guide (IS-22FG). The Facilitator Guide is a tool for those interested in delivering Are You Ready? content in a small group or classroom setting. The Facilitator Guide is an easy to use manual that has instruction modules for adults, older children and younger children. A resource CD is packaged with the Facilitator Guide that contains customizable presentation materials, sample training plans and other disaster preparedness education resources.
Copies of Are You Ready? and the Facilitator Guide are available through the FEMA publications warehouse (1.800.480.2520). For large quantities, your organization may reprint the publication. Please visit our reprint page for more information.
For more publications on disaster preparedness, visit the Community and Family Preparedness webpage.
Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness Full Document (PDF – 21Mb)