Safety Report

Spring_2019 Safety Report


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:

  • How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  • What is my shelter plan?
  • What is my evacuation route?
  • What is my family/household communication plan?
  • Where will we meet if we are separated or forced to evacuate?
  • What are individual family member/household responsibilities?Are there any special needs we need to consider, such as medical conditions, allergies, critical medicines, disabilities, languages, children or elderly family members, pets, or other special needs?

Use a template available through the Red Cross, 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:

  • First aid kit: Store your first aid supplies in a tool box or fishing tackle box so they will be easy to carry and protected from water. Your kit should also contain drugs and medications, wound dressing materials and a first aid.
  • Tools and supplies such as an ax, shovel, hand tools, rope, tarps and tape.
  • Additional items such as gloves, matches, candles, sleeping bags/blankets, knife, camp stove (for outdoor cooking use only), radio, flashlights, pet supplies, towels, sanitary supplies, fire extinguisher.
  • Documents: passport, bank account numbers, credit card account numbers and companies, important phone numbers, family records (birth, marriage, death certificates), cash.
  • Water: Store one gallon of water per person per day. Don’t forget your pets. Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person. Change every six months.
  • Bleach and bucket: Use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms or use a camping water filter. Use bleach containing 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Add six to eight drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Food: Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and high energy foods such as peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix. Avoid foods like dehydrated food, rice, pasta and dry beans that require a great deal of water to prepare. Restock your food once a year. Also remember food for pets and infants, and don’t forget to pack vitamins.

A survival kit for your automobile:

  • Storing some of these supplies in a small bag or backpack will make them more convenient to carry if you need to walk: blankets, bottled water, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, food, gloves, tow rope, tools, toilet tissue, jumper cables, duct tape.

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 or email the author at