How to Put Together an Emergency Action Plan for Your Office
An emergency action plan is essential for all workplaces. These situations can often be met with panic, which only increases the chance of harmful outcomes. But providing a clear plan with actionable steps can help comfort people in the event of a scary and potentially dangerous situation. Proper leadership and directions not only help your coworkers know what they should do in the case of an emergency, it lets them know that the situation is in control.
There are a variety of situations that could trigger an emergency action plan in a place of work. This includes scenarios like the outbreak of a fire, dangerous weather conditions like a tornado, or even active shooter situations. There are decisions that need to be made in the heat of the moment and any guiding choices that can be made beforehand will help your coworkers know what to do.
So here are the essential steps to providing your coworkers with the tools they need to navigate potentially harmful situations.
You don’t want your coworkers to panic in a time of crisis. One thing that can be a big help for this is to give them someone to look to for guidance. You should have designated leaders in a crisis situation. Find the coworkers that you believe will be able to maintain a clear head in such a situation.
These people will be in charge of organizing everyone in the area to proceed in the best way possible considering the situation. This could mean directing them along the evacuation route or properly sheltering in place. They’ll also be responsible for completing a head count and communicating with others.
There will need to be an alert system to warn your coworkers when an emergency is happening. Make sure everyone knows the differences between the alerts. They should know exactly what an alert means when they hear it.
Your coworkers should also know what to do when they hear these alerts. What are the first steps? Do they call 911 or immediately evacuate? Do they communicate with other team members or focus on their own safety? These considerations should be known by everyone so they can quickly act in the appropriate manner when the time comes.
Put Together Shelter/Escape Plan
This is a very important aspect of your emergency action plan. Different situations will call for different responses. For instance, a fire would mean your coworkers should evacuate the property as quickly and orderly as possible. However, an active shooter situation might necessitate sheltering in place with locked doors and windows.
These various situations need to be addressed. And when evacuation is necessary, make sure your team members know the best way to go. Your leaders will be able to direct people, but these plans should be known by everybody so they can act decisively and quickly.
Make sure each area of your office has a set of supplies should the need to shelter in place be enacted. This includes items such as batteries, flashlights, medical supplies, water, and food. Natural disasters can occasionally cut off contact with the outside so you want to be sure that your coworkers will be safe and secure until help is able to arrive.
An emergency contact number should be compiled for each employee. You never know when these situations are going to arise and you don’t know what’s going to happen when they do. This important information will be needed should something go wrong.
Provide Communication Instructions
This is for use after an emergency. You want to have a clear count on where everyone is. This includes where they are outside of the building after an evacuation, or who remains inside and has yet to escape. Share the phone numbers of your leaders so they can get in contact with each other once everything has calmed down.
This can be very important information to help make sure no one is left behind and anybody that needs medical attention can quickly receive it.
These plans should be continually optimized. The best way to do this is to review your current plan and ensure that it is up-to-date and fully fleshed out. Update all the information regarding leaders, modes of contact, and anything else that might have expired.
Review your supplies and make sure they are in place. You want to be ready in the case of an emergency so set a recurring schedule to review your systems and materials.
And finally, you should occasionally practice your plan to be sure everyone is ready. This will help your leaders to remember exactly where to go, who to call, and how to interpret the alarms. It also helps your team members to know that there are systems in place to help them in case of an emergency. This will help calm them should they become worried about a specific scenario.