Emergency Preparedness and Response

Are You Ready for a … Natural Disaster?

A series of storms raged across Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma over Memorial Day weekend, 2015, killing as they went. Among the dead were some who were washed away by floodwaters, others who died in tornadoes, and at least three people who were working on post-storm cleanup. Is your workplace prepared for a natural disaster?

The kind of disaster you need to be prepared for will depend on your location—along the East Coast and the Gulf Coast, hurricane preparedness may be a big deal. In the nation’s interior, tornadoes and floods may be the greatest concern. Along the West Coast, your focus might be earthquake preparedness. Regardless of the type of disaster, there are some things every employer should do.

Be Prepared!

Don’t wait until disaster strikes to plan for:

  • Shutdowns and evacuations. Define the circumstances under which you will shut the workplace down and whether you will send everyone home or have them shelter at the facility. Drill workers in emergency procedures for the type of disaster they might face.


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  • Staffing. Depending on the type of workplace, you may send everyone home (e.g., a school that closes for inclement weather), keep a limited staff on hand (e.g., a factory that halts production during a hurricane but keeps some staff on hand to deal quickly with storm damage), or call in extra staff (e.g., a hospital that might need additional help to deal with casualties)
  • Communication. Do you know how you will stay in touch with your workforce while they are away from the workplace? Do employees know how to reach you?


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  • Essential supplies. If there’s a chance your workers could be trapped at work (e.g., by an earthquake) or that you will ask some of them to “ride out” a weather emergency, you should have enough food, water, toilet paper, and other essentials on hand for at least 72 hours—and workers should also have personal emergency kits, including medications and other things they might need.
  • Cleanup. Workers might need safety gear for cleaning up storm damage that they don’t need for their regular job duties. Think about the type of disaster you expect (e.g., flood, wind damage) and the type of cleanup it will require, and stock up on the safety gear that will protect workers from the aftermath.

Need guidance for specific types of emergencies? Get exactly what you need at Safety.BLR.com®.