My community experienced an F4 tornado on November 10, 2002.    Unfortunately there were two deaths in the community but there could have been many more.  The local cinema was full of people out for a movie on a Sunday afternoon.  Cinema employees moved everyone to the safest part of the building when the warning alarms were sounded.

It’s amazing to see the property devastation which only resulted in minor scratches and bruises for the theater’s customers and employees.   Obviously cinema management knew what to do in an emergency and they were prepared.  

Every employer regardless of size should have a plan in place to handle emergency situations just like every family should.  The following are six tips you should think of when putting your plan together. 

  • Remind people of the plan periodically.  Share information with new people. and hold an occasional drill so any issues can be addressed before a real situation occurs. 
  • Be prepared to help people with temporary or permanent mobility issues reach safety.  Elevators won’t be available in fire or weather situations and you have a problem if someone can’t walk down the stairs. If your budget allows, you may want to purchase an “evacuation chair” and train staff on how to use the chair.   Even if you only have a one story building you may need a way to help disabled people evacuate quickly.     
  • Make sure you have a designated evacuation point where people can gather and a way to account for everyone.   Do you need a place to gather off premises if people can’t leave but they can’t be in the building either?  An example would be a fire in the middle of winter and people can’t get to their cars.  A building close by that you can use in a situation like this could be helpful.     
  • Have a safety kit that someone will grab and take with them.  Contents should include a list of phone numbers you may need, a first aid kit, flash light, batteries, cell phone, and emergency radio.
  • Set up a phone tree in case you need to call staff to let them know about a situation. 
  • Be ready for medical emergencies, too.  Offer CPR and AED training to your employees.  If your budget allows purchase an AED unit.  It’s not difficult to learn CPR or to use an AED unit with training.  Make sure everyone knows the plan is to call 911 FIRST and then offer assistance to the person. 

Each business is different and emergency plans need to be tailored to fit your situation.  With planning and communication you and your people can be prepared.  I’d like to hear ideas you have or about emergency situations you have faced.

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