A well-prepared workplace has a good emergency plan in place that includes enough stored food, water, and first aid supplies to last everyone who might be trapped at the office for three days. Unfortunately, we don’t all get to work at places that make emergency preparedness a priority. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to ensure your personal preparedness at work.
If travel isn’t safe, you and your coworkers may have little choice but to remain in your workplace for an indefinite amount of time. Chances are your workplace isn’t really prepared to deal with such circumstances.
Determine ahead of time who is in charge of emergency planning, and ask the following questions:
What happens when people get hungry?
Is there a backup source of water? Tap water may not be available, or may not be safe to drink after a disaster.
Is there a way to stay warm if the power is out?
What if someone has a minor injury? Do you have the tools to treat it?
Does your workplace have emergency lighting?
Based on what you learn, put together your own office preparedness kit. Include a basic first aid kit, a compact space blanket for warmth, three days worth of food (high-density energy bars are a good choice), a flashlight with working batteries, and iodine tablets to treat water.
If you have the space, you might store bottled water instead.
Keeping a couple of travel packs of tissue on hand is a good idea, too. This kind of kit will cover your basic necessities until you can make it home. Keep it compact, so it won’t get in the way during a normal workday.
Once you’ve assembled your own at-work preparedness kit, consider asking your employer to encourage your colleagues to do the same. In addition to your at-work preparedness kit, consider keeping a similar, more robust kit inside your car. This will keep you ready-for-anything no matter where you are.
You’ll need to know alternate routes home in case your normal route is impassable, even to pedestrians. A good office bug-out bag would include walking shoes, a rain poncho, a fleece jacket, gloves and a hat, a box of high-energy food such as granola bars, a small first aid kit, a flashlight, and a topographical map from your office to your home. In an emergency situation, you should be prepared even in the event you have to make the trip home by foot.