October 21, 2020
We encourage everyone to become part of America’s Weather-Ready Nation initiative. It motivates you to get prepared for disasters and to encourage your friends and family to do the same. Now the campaign is international and it’s not just about weather, it’s about ALL disasters, including wildfires, earthquakes and man-made emergencies.
Because we spend time in our homes, schools, cars, and at work, it’s important to be “disaster-ready” wherever we are. While tornadoes are generally a late afternoon or early evening springtime event, many emergencies have no time or season. Earthquakes, chemical spills or fires can occur on a beautifully clear day or night. Here are five things to keep you prepared any hour of any month for any catastrophe while you’re at work:
1. Have a NOAA Weather Radio somewhere in the office. Too often, work becomes busy and hectic, leaving people unaware of what’s going on outside. When a watch or warning is issued, you need to know about it. The Parsons Manufacturing Plant in Roanoke, IL was destroyed by this F-4 tornado, but no lives were lost. NOAA Weather Radio alerted them, and all 140 employees took shelter before the twister leveled their building.
2. Stash a pair of old, comfortable shoes in your desk or inside the trunk of your car. In many disasters, cars are debilitated or roads become impassable, meaning you’ll need to walk, maybe for several miles. Would you like to walk that far in a pair of high heels or stiff dress shoes?
3. Keep a “mental kit” inside your head. From where you sit, do you know where the nearest fire extinguisher is? The nearest first aid kit? The nearest automatic defibrillator? Do you know whether you need to dial an “8” or a “9” on your office phone before you can dial 911? Do you know the location of your floor’s fire alarm and do you know how to activate it? How about evacuating the building from the room you are in right now -- would you be able to get to your #1 exit or your #2 exit?
4. Keep a small flashlight in your desk. In a nighttime power outage or a smoky fire, that light could guide you to safety or be a signal for rescuers. A whistle could also help.
5. Keep your cell phone charged. Because you never know when you’ll need it.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has an excellent website for businesses. It will teach you how to prepare your facility and your employees for whatever may come your way.