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August 31, 2007
Are Your Employees Prepared to Survive a Catastrophe?

September is National Preparedness Month, and during this month, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security urges all Americans to take some simple steps to become better prepared for emergencies of all kinds--from terrorist attacks to devastating natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes.

Urge employees to take four simple steps this month. Homeland Security says everyone should:

  1. Put together an emergency supply kit that will allow them and their families to survive for at least 3 days in the event of an emergency.
  2. Develop a family emergency plan that outlines all the steps a family needs to take in a devastating emergency that could require the evacuation of home and hometown.
  3. Learn more about different threats that could affect the community and the appropriate responses to each of them.
  4. Get trained in first aid and emergency response, and get involved in preparing the community for a catastrophic event.

For more information about each of these steps, suggest employees see the national preparedness website at

Why It Matters...
  • In the past 6 years America has experienced two major catastrophes--9/11 and Hurricane Katrina--as well as numerous smaller disasters all around the country.
  • Being prepared for large-scale emergencies can prevent injuries and save lives.
  • How many employees do you think are really prepared right now (e.g., have a family emergency plan, an emergency supply kit, and enough supplies in their home to last their family for 3 days)? Half your workforce? Fewer?

Take some time to talk about the emergency supply kit. The government says that employees should have enough supplies in their homes to meet the needs of themselves and their families for at least 3 days. And each family should have an emergency supply kit to take with them in the event they are forced to leave their homes. What should those kits contain? Here are just a few essential items:

  • Battery radio, flashlight, and extra batteries
  • Water (1 gallon a day per person) and canned or dried food
  • Blankets or sleeping bags and clothes
  • First-aid kit
  • Hygiene supplies (soap, toothpaste, etc.)
  • Prescription medications
  • Map of evacuation routes out of town
  • Important phone numbers and other information (bank account numbers, insurance policies, etc.)
  • Cash and travelers checks (in case credit cards are not accepted)

See the national preparedness website for a complete list of items.

Here are some other preparedness strategies you can suggest so your employees are prepared to deal with whatever may come, no matter how bad:

  • Read the organization's emergency plan for information about work-related disaster response,
  • Be familiar with community's evacuation and emergency plans, and check with your child's school and request a copy of their emergency plan.
  • Designate an emergency contact person (like an out-of-state relative or friend) that family members can call if they get separated, and make an emergency contact card for each family member to carry with them at all times.
  • Pick a place for the family to meet after the emergency in case of separation.
  • Plan what to do with pets if evacuation is necessary and employees can't take their animals with them.
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