2017 was a dramatic year for the nation. Between Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria, which devastated the East, and wildfires that ravaged the West, last year was the costliest year of natural disasters on record. An estimated $306 billion in damages was the result of 16 major catastrophes. With heat waves and torrential flooding becoming the norm, it pays to be prepared for the future.
September is National Preparedness Month, and here at Pinnacol, we’re dedicated to helping you and your team mitigate disasters before they happen. Floods, fires hail and snowstorms are just a few of the natural disasters that are unique to Colorado. But in the event of any type of emergency, a shared vision of emergency preparedness is crucial for saving your team’s lives, and money. Here are a few crucial tips in preparing for natural disasters in the workplace.
Educate the team
Basic knowledge of first aid and CPR can be lifesaving in an emergency. Take the time to arrange a workshop through the Red Cross, in which an expert Red Cross instructor comes to your workplace with all the necessary training tools to teach First Aid, CPR, and AED to your employees. It’s painless, and one of the most effective, preventative steps you can take in emergency preparedness.
Also, educate yourself and your employees about your region’s unique risks. Schedule a morning meeting in which you and your team brainstorm disaster preparedness unique to your region’s historical disasters. Using FEMA’s data visualization page that details Colorado’s 80 natural disasters since 1953, your team can better understand what disasters to prepare for.
Make an emergency preparedness plan
It sounds daunting, but creating an emergency preparedness plan is like having a multitool in your back pocket. It’s always going to be there when you need it. Follow these simple steps and you and your team will be leaps and bounds ahead when disaster strikes.
- Assign roles
Give each and every one of your employees a duty in the event of a disaster. The most common roles include emergency leaders, rescue and medical duties, and those who remain on-premise even after evacuation. But all workplaces are different, and you and your staff will need to brainstorm how each person contributes to the team’s safety when disaster strikes.
- Create an evacuation plan
Finding a safe assembly place for the team is of top concern, so make sure you pick a room in your building without windows, and with strong, sturdy walls that is sizeable enough for your entire team to fit in. Now think about how your employees can safely get to that room. Make sure all emergency exits are clearly marked, that all stairwells are easily accessible in case of electrical outages, and that any employees with disabilities are able to safely evacuate, too.
- Report, react, communicate
- Be ready to report a disaster in the blink of an eye, whether it’s to superiors or to public authorities.
- Know how to shut off the building’s gas and water supply in the event of a natural disaster.
- Have a game plan of storing critical data off-site.
- If the phone lines are down, have a back-up plan for communicating. Walkie-talkies are a simple but effective solution.
We understand that putting together a preparedness plan can be a challenge, so don’t hesitate to contact Safety On Call at firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance. We also have extensive resources on our Emergency Preparedness webpage that can help you and your team hone in on the right strategy for you and your workplace.