How to get ready for an emergency at work

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Most workplaces have emergency plans in place in case of a fire or other disaster. But it’s a good idea to have your own plan in case you need to quickly get out of or away from where you work.

Here are a few tips to help you get ready for an emergency at work.

Before an emergency
In your building: It’s good to know the fastest way to get out of your building. Learn the evacuation routes to your home, if your town or city has them in place. Also, know where fire extinguishers are located.

At your desk or work area: In your own workspace, a pair of good walking shoes under your desk or wherever you keep personal items at work. You may also want to keep some snacks and bottled water at your desk in case you find yourself stuck in your workplace for a long period of time.

Other things you might think about storing at work:

  • Coat
  • Spare money
  • Map of the town/city
  • Small flashlight
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Essential medications
  • Spare glasses or
  • contact lenses

Make a contact plan
Make sure you have an out-of-state person who can act as a contact for you and your family members in case of an emergency. If phone lines are down, it may be difficult for you to get in touch with your loved ones. While you might not be able to place a call within your own city, you might be able to call out of state. If cell phone lines are busy, try sending a text message instead.

During an emergency
Listen for instructions from the building supervisor or floor captains in your own building, and pay attention to official reports on the radio or TV. You may have to evacuate, but you might also have to stay in your building — it will depend on the type of emergency.

Leaving your workplace: If you have to evacuate, bring only essential items with you and leave everything else behind in case you have to walk for a long time.

Sheltering in your workplace: If you have to stay in the building, know where safe places are to wait. In general, stay away from windows and loose bookshelves. Be aware of co-workers with special needs, and try to assist them if possible.

American Public Health Association