Thinking about the worst incidents that could befall your business is not pleasant. But when you allow yourself the time to prepare for a worst case scenario emergency, you give yourself the best chance of minimizing damage and protecting your employees and your business.
Following are some best practices for developing an emergency safety plan for your facility, adapted from government suggestions. For more information on creating an emergency response plan for your business, be sure to visit ready.gov.
When creating an emergency response plan, the first step is to consider the different emergency scenarios you may face. A business in Indiana, for instance, probably does not need to spend much time considering what they would do in case of a hurricane, while businesses in Florida would.
As a facility with a kitchen, fire is always a top concern. You should also consider the possibility of extreme weather, such as tornadoes, as well as acts of violence and chemical air contamination.
Protective Actions for Life Safety
Every emergency plan should begin with what are known as Protective Actions for Life Safety. These are the different ways in which you, your employees, your customers, and anyone else present in your facility during an emergency can ensure the safety of themselves and those around them.
The four most common types of protective actions are:
1. Evacuation (in case of fire, chemical spill, or other internal accident or hazard)
2. Sheltering (in case of extreme weather)
3. Shelter-in-place (in case of chemical cloud)
4. Lockdown (in case of local violence)
Your facility should have a plan for each of these actions, including a notification system that warns building occupants of the situation.
After accounting for all Protective Actions for Life Safety, you should consider a plan for situational stabilization. The most basic situation stabilization plan involves calling emergency services and awaiting their instructions or response. In some cases, this may be enough. However, when a life or your business hangs in the balance, it can be prudent to prepare beyond this.
Some examples of situational stabilization preparation include:
- Personnel CPR training
- Fire Suppression System installation and maintenance
- Personnel response training (e.g., alarm training, communications training, plan reviews)
The extent to which you train and prepare your personnel to deal with an emergency is up to you, so long as you adhere to government regulations. However, the better prepared you are, the more likely you can prevent or minimize damage.
The third piece of any emergency plan involves property conservation. These are the preparations you can make before a forecasted event, like a storm, or to be prepared for a non-forecasted incident like a fire. Reviewing your building’s plans and taking steps to protect your costliest equipment in the event of harsh weather is a great start.
Your fire suppression system is also an essential part of your emergency safety plan. Indeed, these systems along with your fire extinguishers and regular facility maintenance are among the best ways to prepare for a fire because they are the best ways to lower fire risk and prevent extensive damage should a fire occur.