Emergency Preparedness: Survival on the Work Front and Home Front

September is National Preparedness Month, which makes this the perfect time for emergency preparedness training, beginning with our Safety Training Tips editor’s explanation of what National Preparedness Month is all about.

What is National Preparedness Month? National Preparedness Month is a nationwide effort to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, workplaces, and schools. Throughout September, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security works with a wide variety of organizations—including employers like you—to highlight the importance of emergency preparedness and promote individual involvement through events and activities across the nation. National Preparedness Month was so designated in recognition of one of America’s worst disasters, the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, which occurred in September.

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What is the purpose of National Preparedness Month? The goal of National Preparedness Month is to increase public awareness about the importance of preparing for emergencies and to encourage Americans to take action. Throughout the month, Homeland Security asks you and your employees to take some simple steps to prepare for workplace and community-wide emergencies.

Preparation involves such steps as learning about workplace emergency plans and procedures, developing a family emergency plan, putting together a family emergency supply kit, being aware of children’s school emergency plans, and generally being informed about possible threats to the community—whether those are natural disasters, terrorism, fire, chemical spills, or some other potentially catastrophic event. For more information about how to prepare for emergencies on the home front, refer your employees to the government’s national preparedness website at

What about workplace emergency preparedness? In a fire, explosion, or some other crisis in the workplace your employees will have to act fast and think faster. There will be no time for uncertainty or asking a lot of questions. It’s essential, therefore, to prepare employees for workplace emergencies so that, should the worst happen, they’ll know exactly what to do, where to go, and how to act. Here’s an emergency preparedness checklist that can help you train employees for any workplace emergency:

–Are employees familiar with the types of workplace emergencies they might have to face some day?
–Do they know about the provisions and procedures of your workplace emergency plan?
–Would they recognize the emergency alarm?
–Do they know how and to whom to report an accident, fire, chemical spill, or other emergency situation?

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–Do they know the locations of the nearest emergency alarms and telephones?
–Do they know the location of the nearest fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, eyewash stations, and emergency showers?
–Do they know how to shut down equipment, operations, or systems in an emergency?
–Do they have at least two evacuation routes from their work areas—a primary route and an alternate route?
–Do they know the location of emergency exits in other parts of the facility where they frequently go (for example, rest rooms, break rooms, locker rooms, warehouse, etc.)?
–Do they know how to carry out any emergency response duties they’ve been assigned?
–Do they know their designated assembly area outside the facility where they should go after an evacuation for a head count?

Why It Matters…

–Workplace emergencies such as fires and chemical spills claim the lives of hundreds of employees every year, injure many more, and damage or destroy thousands of workplaces.
–A terrorist attack on one workplace—the World Trade Center—cost nearly 4,000 lives.
–The city of New Orleans was practically destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, which claimed nearly 1,500 lives.
–You can’t necessarily control or predict disasters that affect the workplace and the communities in which employees live, but you can prepare employees to survive them.


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