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September 05, 2013
Is your emergency action plan workable?
By Ana Ellington, Legal Editor

According to economists, every dollar spent on preparing for an emergency saves $7 in response! And with wacky weather and terrorism concerns, it pays to be prepared. Having an action plan is an important part of emergency preparedness. However, merely writing one isn’t enough. You also have to make sure your plan is workable.

September is National Preparedness Month, and to help you prepare, here are eight key points to consider when developing an emergency action plan:

1. Do not store your action plan in electronic form only; make sure hard copies are readily available.

2. List the location of important utility shutoffs, and include digital photos of them so that they can be identified quickly and easily.

3. List any equipment or machinery that must be shut down in an emergency as well as the name of the person(s) who has responsibility for doing so.

4. Ask each department to review all pertinent parts of the plan to ensure accuracy and workability. Often, if one person is charged with writing the plan, he or she will write something that looks good on paper but works poorly in real life.

5. Conduct periodic drills to ensure employees know what to do in an emergency.

6. Be sure to include provisions in your plan for visitors to your facility.

7. Since emergencies don’t happen on Tuesdays at 10 a.m., when writing your plan, be sure to take into account variations in emergency procedures that account for differences in shifts or days of the week.

8. List in the plan the locations of special equipment (for example, special protective suits to be used in the event of a chemical release) and emergency supplies (food, water, etc.) in the event employees are stranded at your facility.

Remember: Having an effective emergency action plan is the key to keeping your employees safe at the workplace and getting back to business with minimum disruptions.

More information, tips, and tools for creating your emergency action plan is available on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Preparedness Planning for Your Business website.

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