Tag Archives: prepared

Let’s Learn from 2017’s Costly Disasters, to Be Workplace Ready in 2018

By now, you’ve probably heard about or seen the headlines around the record-breaking costs of 2017’s natural disasters. According to the Washington Post, last year’s natural disasters caused $306 billion in damage. Most of that was damage caused by hurricanes, at $265 billion.

Although people come down on two sides regarding why we had so many and such costly disasters, there’s one point you can’t argue: the necessity of emergency preparedness. Regardless of the reasons behind these events, the fact is that disasters do happen, and in this day and age, there not all caused by Mother Nature. We can’t prevent the disasters, but we can be ready for them.

Emergency preparedness in the workplace
In this blog, we have posted many times on being prepared for disasters, whether they hit when we’re at home or away from home. Since many of us spend a significant amount of time at work, however, let’s also address emergency preparedness in the workplace. There’s a good chance that’s where we’ll be if something does go wrong, whether it’s a natural disaster like a tornado or a manmade one like a terrorist attack.

The Nonprofit Risk Management Center website is the place to start. There you will find easy-to-follow instructions for planning for evacuations—and the key word here is planning. Knowing ahead of time how evacuations will be carried out is absolutely critical to everyone’s safety. Instructions include planning for evacuations, including the alarm system that will be used; training employees on evacuation procedures; getting any visitors out of the building; making sure everyone is accounted for; designating emergency response teams; securing vital records and equipment and much more.

We highly recommend going to this page and using it as a resource. You’ll find two kinds of checklists, one for employees to follow should they have to evacuate, and one for your business to ensure you’ve covered all your bases in your planning and training. In addition, you’ll find links to other resources as well.

What if you’re not the boss?
Even if you’re not the boss or the business owner, this is information you need to know and to share with those who are in charge—or at least with your coworkers. Because the best way to handle a disaster is to be ready for it.

If you want to start with an assessment of your state of readiness, the Red Cross has created an online assessment for businesses and schools to use to evaluate how prepared they are (or aren’t) for an emergency. If you’re an employee, this might be a good starting place for raising awareness with management, and ensuring your workplace is ready.

And regardless of whether or not management decides to listen and act, you might also want to read these tips for emergency preparedness, wherever you are when disaster strikes.

Here’s to a less chaotic 2018, but to families and facilities being prepared nonetheless!

Photo by Benjamin Kerensa on Unsplash

Preparing for Disasters: an Absolute Necessity, no Matter Where You Live

It really doesn’t matter where in the U.S. you live. Disaster preparedness is something we should all be doing as winter gets closer. Sure, not everyone faces blizzards or hurricanes or flash flooding or tornadoes or earthquakes or volcanoes or tsunamis (and thankfully, no part of the U.S. faces all of these, yikes!). But…things can go wrong, very wrong, anywhere.

In my own part of the country where extreme weather is rare, we still get earthquakes, windstorms, deep freezes, and—two years ago—a mudslide that killed 43 people and wiped out an entire neighborhood.

The fact is, disasters can happen anywhere, any time. Freak windstorms, downed power lines, outbreaks of disease, heat waves…many disasters don’t know geographical boundaries. They don’t care if you live on the San Andreas fault or in Tornado Alley.

So…be ready in case disaster does strike!
All of that doom and gloom speak there, it has a purpose: to encourage you to get some preparation done, just in case—because being ready for the worst is just one more part of keeping your home and family safe and secure.

If you think this isn’t necessary, consider this question: If all of a sudden, today, you had no electricity or running water, no phone, and no stores you could go to for supplies, how long could you and your family cope?

Make sure your family can cope for several days at least, by being prepared for a disaster. It’s not hard, just a little time-consuming, and resources are easy to find. The Internet has plenty of emergency checklists, and I encourage you to find one relevant to your area, print it out, and check off the items as you get ready for everything to go south.

A basic disaster preparedness checklist to get you started
To at least get you started, I’ve pulled together one that’s at least a little bit applicable to everybody throughout all the different regions, so maybe start here. And remember, better safe than sorry!

  • A heat source: If you didn’t have electricity or natural gas, how would you keep your family warm? And whatever that heat source is, make sure you have extra fuel, whether that’s propane for a heater or firewood for a wood stove.
  • A way to cook: This could be on your camping stove (outside!) or on a grill, or even on your woodstove. As with the heat source, make sure you have extra fuel, such as charcoal, propane or wood.
  • A hand-cranked or solar-powered radio
  • Matches, batteries, candles, flashlights: Stock up on all of these and make sure you keep spare batteries near the flashlights they’re for. Also make sure a couple of candles and flashlights are stored where they can be easy to reach and find in the dark.
  • Prescription medicines, first aid supplies, and cold remedies and helpers such as cough syrup: If someone in the family has prescription medicine, make sure to have extra on hand.
  • Food and water: This is a big one. Food needs to be either dried or canned, not frozen (since your freezer will stop working if the power goes out). It also needs to be easy to prepare. Keep enough on hand to last you a few days, not just one meal. Water is imperative. Store plenty for your family. Rotate through the food and water as needed, say every six months or so.
  • Pet food: Guess who else will be hungry? Make sure you stock up for them too.
  • Toilet paper: Seriously.
  • Gas: Keep your gas tank above half a tank at all times, and have extra gas on hand, safely stored in a gas can.
  • Generator and gas: Crank it up each fall and make sure it’s working before you need it.
  • Cash: You never know what might happen, but you want to be able to buy supplies even if the electricity is out and your debit card can’t be scanned.

Two surprising bonus tips
1) In addition to making sure your home is well supplied, also make sure your car is stocked for an emergency, and here’s a tip I just saw that makes so much sense: Keep your emergency kit and any extra blanket or clothing in the backseat! I had my kids put their emergency supplies in the trunk, but that doesn’t mean those supplies will be accessible. Moving those supplies to the back seat makes so much sense!

2) Stay healthy! Take good care of yourself, get plenty of sleep, eat well, and practice good hygiene to avoid getting the flu. Because if disaster strikes and you’re not healthy or strong enough to deal with the adversity, your emergency supplies won’t be much help!

Here’s hoping for a safe and sound winter for us all…but that we’re all ready for anything, just in case.

True Story Reminds Us to Be Prepared for the Unexpected Every Time You Leave the House

True story: Two days ago, my husband and I were on the road, making what should have been a 2 ½ hour trip to a town far north of us to pick up a pig. We were towing the big horse trailer and we were enjoying the view as we made our way up the scenic two-lane highway that would get us to our destination.

Then suddenly traffic was stopped.

At first, we weren’t sure what to make of it. It looked like ferry traffic that you sometimes see around here, when the number of cars waiting for a ferry exceeds the space for lining up to wait. But even though we were along the water, we knew we weren’t anywhere near a ferry.

We stopped the engine while watching the cars rapidly pile up behind us, quickly make a line-up several miles long. Then we got out and asked other drivers what was happening. We learned it was an accident and the road was blocked and there was nothing to do but wait for at least an hour.

Some people were getting out of line, to turn around and head back the way they had come. Maybe they knew another way, or maybe just changed their minds about going wherever it was they had been headed. We didn’t know any other routes, and turning around was not an option for us with the trailer hooked up to the truck, so we settled in to wait.

And here’s why being prepared is so important: We had food and we had water, because we knew we’d get hungry and thirsty on the long drive. My husband also had his studies with him, because he was studying while I drove. So we were prepared for what turned out to be a wait of over an hour—in part. It was a pleasant sunny day, but had the weather been otherwise, we would not have been prepared because my husband had only a t-shirt on and he hadn’t brought a jacket. (As we were rushing to leave, he asked, “Should I grab a sweatshirt?” and I replied “no” because we were running late.) If the wait had been longer and the temperature had started to drop, he would have needed another layer of clothing. We also didn’t really have as much water as we should have, it turned out.

While he studied, I walked. I walked for exercise and then I walked to the site of the accident to see how far away it was and how close it was to being cleared. Lucky for me, I had walking shoes on. But had we been on our way to a fancy dinner, would I have had walking shoes with me? Or appropriate clothes?

As I walked, I saw many people making the best of the situation—making friends, going jogging, blowing bubbles, walking their dogs, taking naps, reading books—and, yes, drinking beer. Almost everyone had a positive and patient attitude, and it made me feel good to see people reacting that way, just going with the flow and making the best of the situation. But again, it was a pleasant summer afternoon. How many of us would have been prepared to be stopped in the middle of nowhere for so long had the weather been inclement or the night quickly falling? What if the wait had been even longer?

Thank goodness no one was hurt in the accident. It messed up traffic so severely only because it involved a truck towing a boat on a trailer that drove off the side of the road down a steep embankment, which made it a logistical issue and blocked the roads as cranes and tow trucks hauled everything up and out. And thank goodness it was the kind of day it was, and we were set with food and water and something to do while we waited.

But it could have been otherwise or it could have been a much longer wait, and therein lies the lesson: Be prepared every single time you leave the house. Period.

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