Being prepared when an emergency springs up is critical to ensuring the safety of occupants and minimizing building damage. According to Statistics Canada, 55% of Canadians have a plan on how they would get in touch with family members during an emergency, while just under half are prepared with an emergency or disaster kit in their household. Creating an emergency response plan is vital for both your household and business so you are prepared when the unthinkable happens.
From the experts at Certified Asbestos, here are the preliminary steps to creating an emergency response plan:
Create a Team
When creating an emergency response plan, it is important to gain insights from others. If you create an emergency response plan on your own, you risk missing important details and assessing alternate scenarios that others will provide. For a business, include members of various departments, in addition to security and maintenance staff. Because everyone occupies different parts of the building, they will be aware of hidden hazards. When creating a team at home, involve the whole family so everyone is able to contribute their opinions and increase the chances of remembering the plan.
There isn’t much point in creating a plan if it’s based on inaccurate information. The more information, the better, so try to gather as much as possible. Useful information includes, but is not limited to:
- existing emergency response plans
- floor plans
- local fire department requirements
- data on the likelihood of various emergencies
Conduct a Risk Assessment
Completing a risk assessment requires you to evaluate your surroundings and determine potential hazards. Once you have identified the hazards, it’s important to note what makes them hazardous, what the outcome will be, and what measures could be taken to mitigate this risk. For example, a painting hanging above a bed is a hazard because during an event, such as an earthquake, the painting could fall onto the people sleeping in the bed. To mitigate this risk, the painting should be removed. It is important to conduct a risk assessment every six months—as conditions within a building change—and to update the emergency response plan accordingly.
Host Planning Sessions
This is the time when you create an in-depth plan detailing all probable situations and the appropriate responses. The plan should outline the ways to exit the building, where occupants should meet after the building has been evacuated, and where the occupants will take shelter. Other components that should be considered are the storage of important documents, such as passports, birth certificates, and insurance papers, in addition to sources of food and water. To secure a food and water supply, create or purchase an emergency kit that has four litres of water per person per day and a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
The best way to prepare for an emergency situation is to practice for people to retain the information and understand the procedures. Review local regulations and insurance requirements to confirm how often you are expected to conduct drills. As a rule of thumb, consider going through the procedure every time someone new joins the team or stays at your house for an extended period of time. This way, everyone is on the same page and aware of the plan.