Have you ever felt it? The earth shakes and shimmies and you wonder if this is the Big Earthquake that scientists keep telling us is going to drop the island right into the ocean? Odds are, if you’ve felt the ground tremble recently, it was probably just a big truck driving past, but it’s an important reminder to check in and ask yourself, “If the real thing hit, would you know what to do?”. On October 20th at 10:20 am, millions of people all over the world will be practicing how to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” during the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill.
Particularly here on the West Coast, we’re overdue for a significant quake—so is your team prepared to minimize losses if “The Big One” happens? If a quake struck right now, would your employees (and your business) be safe? If not, there’s no time like the present to prepare!
Here are 5 tips to simplify earthquake preparedness:
1. Get a Kit. If an earthquake hits, you’re not going to have time to hit up the supermarket for supplies. Having an emergency kit on hand at work means that basics like water, food, flashlights, emergency blankets, contact information, and first aid supplies are taken care of. Feel like it’s just another thing to add to the never-ending to-do list? There are lots of options for pre-packaged emergency kits available to order online. Some of those pre-prepped kits are pricey, but if you’re willing to put in the legwork, an Emergency Kit Checklist can help you put together your own kit for a lower cost. The bottom line? It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, but you need to have one.
2. Practice. You know what they say—practice makes perfect! Sign your team up to participate in the Great ShakeOut next week, and strongly encourage participation in the drill. It might feel silly in the moment to all be cowering under your desks counting, but the best way to remember how to do something is to actually do it. And if an earthquake happens, you’ll be glad you’ve done a dress rehearsal.
3. Assign Responsibilities. If something happens, who’s in charge? Who will be responsible for what, and when? Treat post-disaster “job titles” as an appendix to employees’ job descriptions—create clarity so that employees know what their responsibilities are in the event of an emergency. Establish a “chain of command”, identify employees with First Aid training, and designate a leader who will take charge in an emergency.
4. Plan for the aftermath. We’ve all been schooled in the “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” drill. But what happens when the shaking stops? Earthquake planning means planning for a range of potential threats. Fires, floods, power outages, hazardous spills, and communication and transportation failures could all follow an earthquake. Designate a muster point where employees will meet, and hold a meeting to talk through logistics and plan for various scenarios that might occur after a quake and what you’ll do to stay safe.
5. Refresh regularly. Think you’re good to go because you went over your earthquake plan once and held a drill 5 years ago? That’s like thinking you’ll win Master Chef because you aced Home Economics in high school. Earthquake preparedness should be an ongoing agenda item; pre-schedule regular staff meetings to refresh employees on how to stay safe during and after an earthquake. Make sure everyone is aware of designated safe spaces in the office to move to during a quake, hold regular drills (more than once a year), and include earthquake preparedness training during new employee orientation.
Your Engaged HR Assignment: Are you ready for the Great ShakeOut? Today’s homework—sign up your workplace to participate here, send out an email letting your team know, and put your organization’s earthquake preparedness to the test!