Emergency Preparedness

  • Draw a floor plan of your office building. Use a blank sheet of paper for each floor. Mark two escape routes from each room. Make sure employees understand the drawings. Post a copy of the drawings at eye level.
  • Establish a place to meet in the event of an emergency, such as a fire.

In the event of a disaster, you may be instructed to shut off the utility service at your place of business.

Natural gas leaks and explosions are responsible for a significant number of fires following disasters. It is vital that all staff members know how to shut off natural gas.

Because there are different gas shut-off procedures for different gas meter configurations, it is important to contact your gas company for guidance on preparation and response regarding gas appliances and gas service to your home.

When you learn the proper shut-off procedure for your meter, share the information with everyone in your office. Be sure not to actually turn off the gas when practicing the proper gas shut-off procedure.

If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out quickly. Turn off the gas, using the outside main valve if you can, and call the gas company from an alternate location.

CAUTION – If you turn off the gas for any reason, a qualified professional must turn it back on. NEVER attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.

In the event of a disaster, you may be instructed to shut off the utility service at your place of business.

Water quickly becomes a precious resource following many disasters. It is vital that all staff members learn how to shut off the water at the main valve.

  • Cracked lines may pollute the water supply. It is wise to shut off your water until you hear from authorities that it is safe for drinking.
  • The effects of gravity may drain the water in your hot water heater and toilet tanks unless you trap it in your house by shutting off the main house valve (not the street valve in the cement box at the curb—this valve is extremely difficult to turn and requires a special tool).

Preparing to Shut Off Water

  • Locate the shut-off valve for the water line that enters your building.
  • Make sure this valve can be completely shut off. Your valve may be rusted open, or it may only partially close. Replace it if necessary.
  • Label this valve with a tag for easy identification, and make sure all staff members know where it is located.

In the event of a disaster, you may be instructed to shut off the utility service at your place of business.

Electrical sparks have the potential of igniting natural gas if it is leaking. It is wise to teach all responsible household members where and how to shut off the electricity.

  • Locate your electricity circuit box.
  • Teach all responsible staff members how to shut off the electricity to the entire office.
  • FOR YOUR SAFETY: Always shut off all the individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit breaker.

Obtain property insurance if you do not have it. Review existing policies for the amount and extent of coverage to ensure that what you have in place is what is required for you and your business for all possible hazards.

  • Flood Insurance
    If you live in a flood-prone area, consider purchasing flood insurance to reduce your risk of flood loss. Buying flood insurance to cover the value of a building and its contents will not only provide greater peace of mind, but will speed the recovery if a flood occurs. You can call 1 (888) FLOOD29 to learn more about flood insurance.
  • Inventory Possessions
    Make a record of your property, for insurance purposes. Take photos or a video of the interior and exterior of your office space. Include personal belongings in your inventory.
  • Important Documents
    Store important documents such as insurance policies, deeds, property records, and other important papers in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box away from your office. Make copies of important documents for your disaster supplies kit.
  • Money
    Consider saving money in an emergency savings account that could be used in any crisis. It is advisable to keep a small amount of cash at in your office where you can quickly access in case of evacuation.

If you or another employee has a disability or a special need, you may take additional steps for emergency protection.

  • Hearing impaired
    May need to make special arrangements to receive warnings.
  • Mobility impaired
    May need special assistance to get to a shelter.
  • Non-English speaking persons
    May need assistance planning for and responding to emergencies. Community and cultural groups may be able to help keep people informed.
  • People without vehicles
    May need to make arrangements for transportation.
  • People with special dietary needs
    Should take special precautions to have an adequate emergency food supply.

Planning for Special Needs
If you have special needs: Find out about special assistance that may be available in your community. Register with the office of emergency services or the local fire department for assistance so needed help can be provided.

  • Create a network friends and coworkers to aid you in an emergency. Discuss your needs and make sure everyone knows how to operate necessary equipment.
  • Discuss your needs with your employer.
  • If you are mobility impaired and work in a high-rise building, have an escape chair.
  • Keep specialized items ready, including extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, catheters, medication, food for service animals, and any other items you might need.
  • Be sure to make provisions for medications that require refrigeration.
  • Keep a list of the type and model numbers of the medical devices you require.