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Where Is YOUR Safe Place?

Nearly every time I conduct a safety talk or speak, one of the first things I do is identify the emergency exits. Am I anticipating calamity? No, but – preparedness is the first step in safety planning. This applies to preparing for weather emergencies as well. Every employee should know where their “safe place” is. Here are some good guidelines for determining a shelter location in your business.

One of the best locations in an emergency is underground, in a basement or storm cellar of some kind. Ideally, if your facility has this, it needs to be sufficiently large enough to hold everyone working at the time and any guests or vendors. Also, depending on how long people may be there, it should contain some essentials, such as bottled water and first aid supplies.

If you don’t have an underground shelter, identify a large room constructed with reinforced concrete, with a heavy concrete floor or overhead roof system. Ideally, this room should be a window-less room made of block or brick. Avoid cafeterias or auditoriums or rooms that have flat, wide-span roofs.

If neither of these two options are available, direct employees to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. You may take it for granted, but not everyone may know where these places are, so be sure you have clear and obvious signage to direct people.

Encourage people to stay away from doors, windows and outside walls. A general rule of thumb is to place as much distance as you can between yourself and windows. Not only can storm winds cause damage, but they can also turn outside objects into projectiles. When inside a room, get to the center and avoid corners, which attract debris.

Your safety plan should include designating a team lead who is responsible for taking a head count and comparing it with known staff to ensure that you’ve accounted for everyone.

While we’ve covered safety inside a building, your business may have workers who could get caught outside when dangerous weather is threatening. Their priority is getting inside or to an underground location. If that isn’t possible, they should get to the lowest spot on the ground, in a gulley or ditch and cover their heads. Clearly, being outside is the most dangerous place to be during a bad storm, so they should be aware of a an imminent threat long enough in advance to avoid being caught outside.

Gene Norman is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist who has helped businesses enhance their safety process as well as provided weather education to community and civic organizations. Learn more about how WeatherCall Enterprise helps businesses with their continuity plans here.