There are so many different reasons why you need an emergency response and evacuation plan. For instance, while hurricanes can be anticipated, earthquakes usually can’t, which is why, if you’re at work at the moment, you would have to evacuate. In some workplaces, there are various hazardous substances used as materials in production. A major leak or contamination might also be a valid reason for evacuation. Then, there’s always the probability of fire or a public safety threat that comes in multiple categories. For all of these reasons, you need to be ready to act in order to save both lives and property. So, here are several tips for workplace emergency response and evacuation.
When it comes to natural disasters, there are two major groups for you to consider. There are those that are easy to predict and those that are not. For instance, while floods and wildfires don’t gain massive proportions overnight, they might accelerate at the unprecedented pace, which might create a scenario in which you have to evacuate. A major heatwave, on the other hand, can be predicted and, if you determine that such a thing could pose as a health hazard, you can prevent the need for evacuation by simply giving everyone a day off. Sure, some may see this as a net loss for a company, yet, the ramifications of ignoring such a major threat are much worse.
Electrical and fire emergencies
While the probability of fire is something that can’t be ruled out even in the safest of the environments, there are some risk points which, if tended to, might make your office much more resistant to it. For instance, an untidy and cluttered office may not increase the chance of a fire hazard spawning but it could greatly accelerate the pace at which it advances. Combustible materials on the premises are yet another hazard but the greatest thread for your office safety, by far, is faulty equipment or a mistake on your electrical grid. This is why you need to have an emergency electrician on a speed-dial. Blown fuses, corroded wiring and tripped circuit breakers are just some of the potential hazards that could become a major problem, further down the line. On the other hand, sometimes the misuse of your electrical grid is the biggest problem. We’re talking about the scenario where extension cords and power points are overloaded. Either way, you could benefit greatly even from a simple assessment of the situation. Even if, at the moment, you don’t see the issue.
The leak of contaminated material
The biggest problem that could occur within your workplace is probably a leak or contamination by hazardous materials, which is probably the most important reason why you need an emergency response protocol in the first place. Saving lives comes first – however, this is a situation that can’t just pass on its own. With a public safety threat or a natural disaster, the threat will pass (eventually), whereas here, the area needs to be quarantined and cleansed. The best course of action, nonetheless, is to prevent this from ever happening. Instruct your employees on how to behave around these materials. Label everything properly and invest in chemical storage cabinets.
Public safety threats
Previously, we’ve discussed the probability of a public safety threat and they come in four major categories. First, you have a direct threat, where a target is announced in a clear and direct manner. These could sometimes be false and aimed towards making people panic, but it’s still never wise to ignore them. Then, you have an indirect threat. These can be much more dangerous, seeing as how the time and place of the attack tend to be vague. You’re left to guess where it’s going to happen, which might make you be in a state of raised alertness but not as ready to act. Then, there a veiled threat, which most often serves as a warning. It doesn’t even have to imply violence or hazardous misbehavior, yet, it’s never wise to ignore it altogether. Finally, there’s the conditional threat, which, out of the four, is probably the easiest one to predict. Either way, the group, organization or an individual that stands behind them is never a reliable factor in this situation. As we already said, they might just be inciting panic and there’s no guarantee that they will stick to the plan (it could all be just a decoy).
The evacuation plan itself depends on the layout and location of the office, the number of people on your staff and the rest of the safety measures installed in the place. However, it’s much easier, not to mention more efficient, to prepare the place and staff if you have a specific threat in mind. Of course, it goes without saying that you can’t prepare your team for every potential outcome. Still, by anticipating these four threats, you can already make a huge leap in the right direction.
Tracey Clayton is a working mom of three girls, passionate about traveling, marketing and everything tech related. Her motto is: “Live the life you love; love the life you live.”