Preparation is Key When Dealing With an Earthquake
Spend a little time in and around California and you will no doubt eventually experience an earthquake – the sudden, oftentimes violent and destructive agitation of our earth’s crust. This crust, otherwise know as our lithosphere is the hard candy shell of our planet that slips and slides over and past itself along fault lines and in areas of extreme volcanic activity. California has always been a seismically active area where geological subduction and strike-slip fault zones wreak havoc on architecture, infrastructure and industry. Thousands of minor to moderate tremors shake the state each year and over the past 10 years alone have caused billions of dollars in damage. If you choose to live and work within the state of California, earthquakes are part of the equation, and as business owners, it is essential to be proactive and prepared when it comes to safeguarding your team and assets. In this article we look at some key ways that your business can practice effective earthquake preparedness:
Create an Emergency Incident Response Procedure
Developing an emergency incident response procedure for your business’s earthquake preparedness is crucial when considering life-threatening scenarios such as an earthquake or fire. Emergency incident response procedures are real-time, step-by-step solutions to support your team in staying safe in an emergency situation as well as for protecting your valuable business assets. Having a plan laid out in advance will aid your employees and team members in taking decisive and safe action during the initial critical moments of an emergency. Conduct a risk assessment to identify potential hazards, how your team will respond to those hazards and an emergency evacuation plan. Emergency incident response procedure templates can be searched for or purchased online, and the more preparation and assessment you can allocate to your business, the better you will be able to manage a situation when it happens. Some key elements from the SCL Emergency Incident Response Procedure for EARTHQUAKES are:
During an Earthquake
- Seek cover away from glass and get under a piece of heavy furniture or other sturdy object.
- Brace yourself in an inside corner away from windows and falling objects.
- In warehouses, stay away from bulk and rack storage areas.
- If outdoors, move out into the open, away from buildings, trees, light poles and utility wires.
- Stay in a protected place until the shaking stops.
Immediately Following an Earthquake
- Once the tremors end, expect aftershocks over the next few days. The most significant will occur within the next few hours.
- Evacuate the building if employee and visitor safety is threatened (see Building Evacuation Diagram).
- Account for employees and visitors and check for injuries. Seek first aid if appropriate and available.
- Do not move any seriously injured individuals unless absolutely necessary.
- Open cabinets cautiously and beware of objects that can fall off of shelves.
In The Case of Spills, Damaged Containers of Potentially Dangerous Materials or Injuries
- If chemicals spill, contact the Director of Safety, Compliance & Transportation, 911 for emergency services, regional HR manager and/or the Warehouse & Facilities Manager to report any incidents.
- Clear a path of debris to allow for emergency vehicles to enter and exit as needed.
- Anticipate that emergency medical services may be overwhelmed and streets impassable. Continue to monitor the AM/FM/Weather radio for broadcasted updates, and follow instructions from local authorities regarding area evacuations and curfews.
Create an Emergency Exit Diagram
Having a clear evacuation plan is essential, especially when you have flammable, pressurized and other dangerous materials and conditions. At SCL we have large propane tanks near the customer parking lot, so all emergency evac routes lead away from that location to an area that is more safe for people to congregate. Assess what products and conditions you have on your facility that may be potentially dangerous or flammable. Avoiding these key locations will allow you to determine safe rally points for your team and emergency services.
Put a Team in Place and Train Them on Earthquake Preparedness
Properly preparing your employees is important. Choose a team of individuals to be leaders that you think can handle the stressful and unpredictable circumstances of a natural disaster such as an earthquake. These people will be essential for organizing and guiding employees and customers to safety during the chaos of an incident. Preparation is your friend. Conduct a mock drill and walkthrough of your emergency incident response procedure with employees to iron out the kinks in advance. You may think that a procedure is water tight, but when the rubber meets the road, implementing a plan might look different than what you initially created on paper.
Know Where Your Shutoff Valves Are Located
Another important element of earthquake preparedness that often goes overlooked is knowing where your main shut off valves are for water, natural gas, emergency sprinkler systems and electrical breakers. Earthquakes can cause leaks in gas lines, water lines and can trigger emergency sprinkler systems to turn on unnecessarily, potentially causing extensive water damage. Know the location of all emergency shutoff valves, taking pictures of them, creating diagrams and adding them to your emergency incident response procedure manual. Clearly defined pictures and images will come in handy when in an emergency you don’t have time to read a manual.
Have Sufficient First Aid, Water and Food Supplies
In some cases, a sizable earthquake can be truly devastating, causing substantial infrastructure damage, injuries and even fatalities. At your facility, be sure to stock sufficient first aid supplies. Have at least one, if not multiple people on staff who are trained in first aid/CPR that can assist with the medical care and triage of the injured until EMS has arrived. Also maintain an emergency supply of non-perishable food items and water in case major transportation arteries are shut down temporarily.
Install an Emergency Backup or Battery Backup System for Your Servers
Contact an SCL Consultant Today
Earthquakes in California are common. There’s no way around that reality, so having a robust, thorough and properly delivered procedure around how a business should deal with an earthquake will potentially save money, time and most importantly, lives. In a wide range of industrial sectors, SCL is committed to being the number one logistics and solutions provider for the products that protect and optimize the machines that keep our country moving. We pride ourselves on remaining at the forefront of industry trends and technological innovations, and as the market continues to evolve, we are committed to providing extensive product and industry knowledge and total performance satisfaction for our customers. For information on how we can assist your fleet in choosing the optimal products at a competitive price, contact an SCL consultant today.