CHRIS ROSS, CSP, CPLP
The Engagement Effect
Have employees plan for disaster at home so they’ll be able to work
The recent earthquakes in Southcentral Alaska are a great reminder that we need to be sure we are prepared for natural disasters. Fortunately, most families only suffered minor damage, but it could have been much worse. Because we live in a place that can be affected by weather, fires, earthquakes and more, taking a few simple steps can help ensure the best possible outcomes.
A large part of workplace disaster preparation is helping your workers with their family safety plan. If you are relying on workers to help out your business during a disaster, and they are worried about or coping with their families, they will be unavailable.
Step 1 — Develop a plan
Begin your plan by discussing these questions with your family, friends or household:
Use a template available through the Red Cross, Ready.gov or the Centers for Disease Control and develop a written plan to help ensure everything has been considered.
One big issue that occurred during the recent Southcentral earthquake is that within moments, the cell phone system was overwhelmed and cell phone conversations were next to impossible. Using text, email and social media can be an alternative form of communication. In the event of a severe emergency, cell communication may be entirely lost, so think of non-electronic forms of communication as well. Purchasing a battery or hand-crank radio may provide the only means of getting information in some cases.
Part of your plan should also include taking some home preparation steps, such as: securing water heaters, free-standing cabinets and book cases; eliminating nearby combustible materials surrounding your property; having a flashlight (with fresh batteries) next to every household member’s bed; and knowing how to shut off gas valves.
Another essential plan element is practice. A well-known human behavior phenomenon is that in times of emergency or stress we act according to our habits. For example, in airplane emergencies, most passengers want to go out the door they came in — despite all the safety briefings they have heard about locating the nearest exit. Several years ago, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sponsored training across the U.S. for kids to learn home fire safety. They were taught to “Stop, Drop and Roll,” to do exit drills in the home, crawl low in smoke, test doors for heat and have an alternate escape route. After thousands of kids were trained, the NFPA went back to several major cities with a home fire simulator. They put the kids into a bed, turned out the lights and simulated a fire. Not a single child escaped the simulator — none of them had ever practiced.
Step 2 — Develop emergency kits
Compile a survival kit for your home, including:
A survival kit for your automobile:
Emergency preparedness is already in place for many throughout the state, but spending a few minutes to review your personal plan can really help out in the event of a disaster.
The Engagement Effect, a division of Ross Performance Group, LLC, offers solutions in organizational results, safety and health, leadership, talent management and culture change. Learn more at www.theengagementeffect.com or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.