Should I stay or should I go? (Evacuation and sheltering tips when away from home)

January 22, 2015

evacuation-911-nycEvacuations are quite common and happen for a number of reasons — fires, floods, mudflows, hurricanes, or chemical spills on the roads or railways. Most preparedness data for the general public focuses on things to do around your home before, during and after an evacuation.

But what if you are at work or school or traveling? Things can happen near your workplace that can force evacuations or sheltering-in-place as seen recently in Paris when terrorists were holed up at a business … or during active shooter incidents at workplaces or schools. And sometimes accidents happen when riding public transit like Washington DC and New York City experienced recently with fires at their train stations.

Whenever these types of emergencies or incidents happen hopefully people take a moment to reflect on some things like…

  • Would you, your co-workers and loved ones know what to do and where you would go if you had to evacuate from work, daycare, school, nursing home, etc?
  • What if you had to shelter-in-place for several hours or even days at work, school or someplace away from home?
  • Have you done evacuation and shelter-in-place drills at work, school or home?
  • Do you have meet up places established so you can rejoin your co-workers and family if you’re not able to go back to work or home?
  • Have you discussed these things with your family members, neighbors and fellow workers?
  • If not, why not?

People don’t need to live in fear but we all should take time to think about various scenarios that might impact your daily lives so you’ll know what to do if something happens. And when you are out in public or using mass transit, more of us should start making a habit of being more aware of our surroundings. You don’t have to be paranoid or obvious – just make a mental note of the EXITS when you go to places or ride public transit, and watch for things that look strange or out of place.

Many of us spend as much time at work or school as we do at home so we tend to get complacent and comfortable with our surroundings. Managers, owners and school administrators should develop plans for a “shelter-in-place” scenario as well as have an evacuation plan in place for employees, students, visitors and customers that may be in your facility during a crisis. And hopefully management and administrators are proactive about explaining these plans with staff and everyone participates in monthly or quarterly drills. If they don’t, encourage them to start doing it and below are some very basic tips to get the ball rolling.

Things to plan for if instructed to “Shelter-in-place” at work:

  • Listen to local authorities and tune in radio or TV for updates.
  • If possible, know who’s in the building if there is an emergency.
  • Set up a warning system (and remember folks with hearing or vision disabilities or non-English speaking workers).
  • Determine which room or area will be used for shelter for each type of disaster in advance (i.e. some emergencies require staying above ground – others may be best underground or in a sealed room). Discuss ideas with others in your building or complex or with First Responders.
  • Calculate air requirements for sealed room in the event of a hazardous materials incident.
  • Consider installing a safe room at your facility to provide protection from the high winds expected during hurricanes, tornadoes and from flying debris. Shelters built below ground provide the best protection, but could be flooded during heavy rains.
  • Assign certain people to grab Kits, take headcounts, seal off room, etc. and have backups lined up in case someone’s off or injured.
  • Take a headcount or have a checklist of people in shelter.
  • Practice, practice, practice — make sure employees know shelter-in-place plans and be ready to explain procedures to newbies not familiar with your plans (like customers or suppliers who might be at your building when an event occurs).

Things to plan for when making an “Evacuation plan” at work:

  • If possible, know who’s in the building if there is an emergency.
  • Decide in advance who in your staff and your building has the authority to order an evacuation. And if local authorities tell you to leave – DO it!
  • Determine who is in charge of shutting down critical operations and systems and locking doors (if possible) during evacuation.
  • Draw a map of your shop or building and mark locations of exits, disaster and first aid kits, fire extinguishers and utility shut-off points. Plan at least two escape routes from different sections of facility. Post copies of maps so employees can find them easily and share copies with local First Responders.
  • Set up a warning system (and remember folks with hearing or vision disabilities or non-English speaking workers).
  • Have flashlights handy or install emergency lighting to help staff exit safely. (Note: never use lighters since there may be gas leaks.)
  • Pick two meeting places (assembly sites) in advance for staff to go – one near the facility and one further away. Also discuss how employees should notify someone if they need to leave the site or aren’t able to reach one.
  • Take a headcount or have a checklist of people at assembly site.
  • Practice, practice, practice — make sure employees know evacuation plans and be ready to explain procedures to newbies not familiar with your plans (like customers or suppliers who might be at your building when an event occurs). Practice drills with other tenants or businesses in your complex and share plans and ideas.

Download some free topics from our preparedness and first aid manual (including things to do before, during and after evacuating your home) at www.fedhealth.net/look-inside-book.html

And learn more about our customizable preparedness and first aid book and PDF ebook and funding programs at www.fedhealth.net in case this “tool” can help your agency, business, volunteer group, faith-based organization, school, family and/or community. Stay safe ~ j & B


How to prepare for and respond to an explosive device or bombing incident

February 6, 2014

Terrorists have frequently used explosive devices as one of their most common weapons for many, many decades. There are many “how-to” manuals available online and in books so unfortunately it’s very easy for bad people to make bombs and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) in various shapes and sizes for use at events where many people are gathering like the Olympics, mass protests, elections, etc.

Explosive devices are very portable, using vehicles and humans as a means of transport, and they can be easily detonated from remote locations or by suicide bombers.

Oftentimes terrorists pack bombs with ball bearings, screws, nails, nuts or other metal pieces to try to inflict as much carnage and chaos as possible.

Besides being vigilant  and having good situational awareness, there are some things people can do to prepare for and respond to an explosive device or incident.

BEFORE ANY TYPE OF EXPLOSION OR INCIDENT:

Be aware & watch – Sounds simple and it is. Stay current on news, alerts and threats – but don’t obsess over them – then start making a habit of being aware of your surroundings. You don’t have to be paranoid or obvious – just make a mental note of the EXITS when you go to places and watch for things that look strange or out of place especially if you walk or drive the same route day after day.

Make a kit – Make disaster supplies kits for your home, office, locker and car. Pack things like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries, medicines (if needed), a change of clothes, comfortable shoes, some toiletries, tools, etc.

Have a plan – Check emergency plans for schools, day care and nursing home to find out where everyone goes if evacuated.

Report strange things – Again, be aware of your surroundings — watch for strange or suspicious packages, abandoned briefcases or backpacks and report suspicious activities to local authorities.

Stay current on threats – The Department of Homeland Security www.dhs.gov and Public Safety Canada www.publicsafety.gc.ca post alerts and news about national security online. And of course read or watch local news to find out what’s going on in your area.

Be ready to evacuate – Listen to authorities — if told to leave – DO it!

Learn first aid – Take a basic first aid and CPR class … or join a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team)

DURING AN EXPLOSION:

Don’t panic… – Stay calm and don’t stop to retrieve personal items or make phone calls – get to a safe place.

Things to watch out for:
•  falling objects – if things are falling off bookshelves or from the ceiling get under a sturdy table or desk
•  flying debris – many blast injuries are caused by flying glass, metal, ball bearings and other materials
•  fires – stay below the smoke (crawl or walk like a duck)
– only use the stairs (don’t use elevators)
– check doors with back of hand before opening  (If HOT, do NOT open .. find another exit!)
•  weak structures – be careful since floors, stairs, roofs or walls might be weakened by the blast

If indoors – Stay put if building is not damaged but leave if warned of any radiation or chemical inside. Cover nose and mouth and find shelter in a building not damaged by blast and prepare to “shelter-in-place”, if necessary.

If outdoors – Cover mouth and nose with a cloth or handkerchief and take shelter in a safe building as quickly as possible!

If in a vehicle – Keep windows up, close vents, use “recirculating” air in case of airborne threats, and keep listening to radio for updates. If possible, drive away from site.

AFTER AN EXPLOSION:

If you are trapped in an area:
•  light – use a flashlight – never use matches or lighters in case there are gas leaks
•  be still – try to stay still so you won’t kick up dust
•  breathing – cover your mouth with a piece of clothing
•  make noise – tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can hear you (shouting may cause you to inhale a lot of dust)

Rescuing others – Untrained persons should not try to rescue people who are inside a collapsed building… wait for emergency personnel to arrive – then, if they need you, they will ask.

Avoid crowds – Be aware large crowds may be targeted for another attack.

Limited services – Cellular service and towers may get overwhelmed after an incident so realize you may have limited access. And officials may cut off mobile service around an attack site to prevent further remote detonations of explosive devices.

Be ready to evacuate – Listen to authorities — if told to leave due to another threat, attack or explosion – do it!

Stay away – Avoid the scene(s) as much as possible. There will be a heavy law enforcement involvement at local, state and federal levels following a terrorist attack due to the event’s criminal nature. Also realize that health and mental health and Fire/EMS resources in the affected communities may be strained or overwhelmed.

Stay current on news – Listen to updates but again, don’t obsess over an event. Extensive media coverage can be overwhelming so try to go about your daily routines and always be aware of your surroundings.

Above extracted from our IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? book 

Also review some tips on what to do if you receive a bomb threat or suspicious package.

Stay safe, j & B


What would YOU do if a bomb or explosive device goes off…? (Safety tips on dealing with an explosion)

April 15, 2013

As we’ve seen for many decades, terrorists have frequently used explosive devices as one of their most common weapons. Thankfully Americans haven’t had to deal with too many mass casualty bombing situations, but many countries see these types of incidents.

Unfortunately there are many “how-to” manuals available online and in books so it’s very easy for bad people and nutjob pukes to make bombs and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) in various shapes and sizes.

Explosive devices are very portable, using vehicles and humans as a means of transport, and they can be easily detonated from remote locations or by suicide bombers. Oftentimes terrorists pack bombs with ball bearings, screws, nails, nuts or other metal pieces to try to inflict as much carnage and chaos as possible.

Besides being vigilant  and having good situational awareness, there are some things people can do to prepare for and respond to an explosive device or incident.

BEFORE ANY TYPE OF EXPLOSION OR INCIDENT:

Be aware & watch – Sounds simple and it is. Stay current on news, alerts and threats – but don’t obsess over them – then start making a habit of being aware of your surroundings. You don’t have to be paranoid or obvious – just make a mental note of the EXITS when you go to places and watch for things that look strange or out of place especially if you walk or drive the same route day after day.

Make a kit – Make disaster supplies kits for your home, office, locker and car. Pack things like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries, medicines (if needed), a change of clothes, comfortable shoes, some toiletries, tools, etc.

Have a plan – Check emergency plans for schools, day care and nursing home to find out where everyone goes if evacuated.

Report strange things – Again, be aware of your surroundings — watch for strange or suspicious packages, abandoned briefcases or backpacks and report suspicious activities to local authorities.

Stay current on threats – The Department of Homeland Security www.dhs.gov and Public Safety Canada www.publicsafety.gc.ca post alerts and news about national security online. And of course read or watch local news to find out what’s going on in your area.

Be ready to evacuate – Listen to authorities — if told to leave – DO it!

Learn first aid – Take a basic first aid and CPR class … or join a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team)

DURING AN EXPLOSION:

Don’t panic… – Stay calm and don’t stop to retrieve personal items or make phone calls – get to a safe place.

Things to watch out for:
•  falling objects – if things are falling off bookshelves or from the ceiling get under a sturdy table or desk
 flying debris – many blast injuries are caused by flying glass, metal, ball bearings and other materials
•  fires – stay below the smoke (crawl or walk like a duck)
– only use the stairs (don’t use elevators)
– check doors with back of hand before opening  (If HOT, do NOT open .. find another exit!)
•  weak structures – be careful since floors, stairs, roofs or walls might be weakened by the blast

If indoors – Stay put if building is not damaged but leave if warned of any radiation or chemical inside. Cover nose and mouth and find shelter in a building not damaged by blast and prepare to “shelter-in-place”, if necessary.

If outdoors – Cover mouth and nose with a cloth or handkerchief and take shelter in a safe building as quickly as possible!

If in a vehicle – Keep windows up, close vents, use “recirculating” air in case of airborne threats, and keep listening to radio for updates. If possible, drive away from site.

AFTER AN EXPLOSION:

If you are trapped in an area:
•  light – use a flashlight – never use matches or lighters in case there are gas leaks
•  be still – try to stay still so you won’t kick up dust
•  breathing – cover your mouth with a piece of clothing
•  make noise – tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can hear you (shouting may cause you to inhale a lot of dust)

Rescuing others – Untrained persons should not try to rescue people who are inside a collapsed building… wait for emergency personnel to arrive – then, if they need you, they will ask.

Avoid crowds – Be aware large crowds may be targeted for another attack.

Limited services – Cellular service and towers may get overwhelmed after an incident so realize you may have limited access. And officials may cut off mobile service around an attack site to prevent further remote detonations of explosive devices.

Be ready to evacuate – Listen to authorities — if told to leave due to another threat, attack or explosion – do it!

Stay away – Avoid the scene(s) as much as possible. There will be a heavy law enforcement involvement at local, state and federal levels following a terrorist attack due to the event’s criminal nature. Also realize that health and mental health and Fire/EMS resources in the affected communities may be strained or overwhelmed.

Stay current on news – Listen to updates but again, don’t obsess over an event. Extensive media coverage can be overwhelming so try to go about your daily routines and always be aware of your surroundings.

Above extracted from our IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? book 

Also review some tips on what to do if you receive a bomb threat or suspicious package. j & B


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