Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.
Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and a slew of wildfires have all served as devastating reminders of the importance of preparedness. Amidst these disasters, we are just starting National Preparedness Month with this year’s theme being “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” The unfortunate reality is that in these uncontrollable situations, the only thing that we can do is plan ahead in the hopes that we won’t need to put our plans into action.
In addition to preparing for emergencies in your home, it is also important that you and your coworkers are prepared should a disaster strike while you are at work. I highly recommend utilizing the ready.gov website and it’s outline of weekly topics for NPM as a resource to use while preparing yourself and the workplace for a disaster. Use this outline and the corresponding ideas to make September an entire month of workplace preparedness.
Week 1: Make a Plan
Start National Preparedness Month by calling a planning meeting. Use this meeting as an opportunity to both brainstorm and finalize a workplace emergency plan. Cover how to access alerts and warnings in the area (https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app is a useful tool), where the emergency supplies and first aid kits are located, how to safely evacuate the building, where the evacuation zone is located, and where shelter will be available. Make this plan readily available for office use, and post evacuation plans around the office for reference.
Week 2: Plan to Help your Neighbor and Community
The second meeting of the month should be spent brainstorming ways to help those around you in an emergency situation. Some ideas that are recommended on ready.gov include becoming CERT trained (Community Emergency Response Teams) and scheduling time for an expert to come in and review first aid that could be useful in a disaster. It is important to remember that in an emergency situation or disaster, you are the help until help arrives.
Week 3: Practice and Build Out Your Plans
After making plans and arranging opportunities to learn how to help others in emergency situations, the third week of the month is the perfect time to start practicing and building on your plans. As an office, practice executing your evacuation plan and take the time to build or replenish the office emergency kit. Encourage team members to build their own personal emergency kits that are small enough to fit in their desk, easy to grab, and that contain a week’s worth of extra medication, some protein bars, a bottle of water, a copy of their id and a list of contacts.
Week 4: Get Involved! Be a Part of Something Larger
The last week of National Preparedness Month should be spent talking to other businesses in your building or block about how they are preparing themselves, if they need any help making plans, and talking to them about how you can work together as a community should a natural disaster strike. In addition, take this week to consider if you and your company can make contributions to the victims of the current natural disasters that are occurring all over the nation.
Week by week, use this September to prepare yourself for a disaster during work hours. Utilize resources like ready.gov for more helpful ideas, and remember…. “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.”