A recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) survey found that nearly 60% of American adults have not practiced what to do in a disaster by participating in a disaster drill or preparedness exercise at work, school, or home in the past year. Further, only 39% of respondents have developed an emergency plan and discussed it with their household. This is despite the fact that 80% of Americans live in counties that have been hit with a weather-related disaster since 2007, as reported by the Washington Post. Prepare your workers, workplace and yourself by using this information to ensure that your workplace and your home are equally safe in an unexpected natural disaster.
Preparing for a Natural Disaster in the Workplace:
- Establish an Evacuation Plan
To ensure a safe evacuation plan, it is important to establish routes and exits that should be taken in case of an emergency. A national disaster survival plan should be written down and reviewed once a year. For many companies, an Emergency Action Plan is required by OSHA, so planning should be considered part of the EAP planning and review each year. This plan should address policies and procedures for employee safety regarding hurricanes, business continuity and contingency plans in the face of damage to the businesses facilities, policies for handling employees, customers and vendors. OSHA suggests on its website that the following are key elements to an effective plan:
- Conditions that will activate the plan
- Chain of command
- Emergency functions and who will perform them
- Specific evacuation procedures, including routes and exits
- Equipment for personnel
- Ensure Worker Safety
- Be sure to educate workers to know what to do In case of a natural disaster
- Practice evacuation plans on a regular basis
- Understand the natural disaster response plan of other businesses in the area as well as local police, fire department, hospitals and utility companies. It may also be helpful in communicating with suppliers, shippers and others with whom you regularly do business.
Preparing for a Natural Disaster at Home:
- Build a Supply Kit
- To ensure that you have all of the necessary items in case of emergency, make sure that you include items such as a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies and copies of your crucial information if you need to evacuate.
- Building a kit with basic items in your household can be a great way to prepare in case of an emergency because in the event that an emergency happens, you likely will not have enough time to buy supplies or rummage around the house for the supplies you may need.
- Make sure that your kit includes enough food, water and other supplies to last for a minimum of 72 hours.
- It is important to keep a water supply available at least three days in advance.
- Prepare Your Home
- Winds created by a hurricane or tornado have the power to cause trees and branches to fall, so it is important to trim down or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep your property safe.
- Buy a portable generator to use during power outages.
- Place valuables and personal documents in a waterproof container and keep it in the highest level of your home.
- Fill up your gas tank.
- Set your refrigerator to the coldest setting.
- Keep all trees and shrubs well-trimmed.
- Cover windows with hurricane shutters or pre-cut plywood.
- Bring in any outdoor furniture items and any items that are not secure that are from outside, to prevent damage.
Please visit OSHA.gov for additional information on natural disaster preparedness planning. Nova Medical Centers provides the highest level of healthcare to patients suffering from musculoskeletal injuries. Our focus is solely on occupational medicine to provide the best possible care for America’s workforce.
Written by: Jessica Hurd