The fallout from Sunday morning’s 6.0 Napa County earthquake has left the San Francisco Bay area in a declared state of emergency. Hundreds of buildings were damaged, fires erupted, water mains broke, and tens of thousands of people were left without power. This kind of devastation may seem like the status quo for any city near the San Andreas Fault; however, over 45 states in the United States are at risk, along with hundreds of locales across the world.
Regardless of whether or not you live, work, or manage property in an area at risk of earthquakes, it is essential to prepare for the sudden event. Below are some key steps your business can take to safely respond to earthquakes.
Prepare for the Inevitable
Taking on a that-will-never-happen-to-me attitude is not the best approach to saving lives, minimizing damage, and reducing business disruptions. Preparing for an earthquake involves:
- Identifying safe places in the office where you and your coworkers can take cover,
- Making sure shelves and furniture are securely fastened,
- Ensuring electrical wiring and gas connections are in good repair as these can be potential fire hazards during an earthquake, and
- Securing your water heater by strapping it to wall studs and bolting it to the floor if your office has one.
Preparing for an earthquake, or any emergency situation for that matter, should also involve the development of an incident management plan. This plan defines roles and responsibilities, details the communication protocols, and guides the response and recovery for your location during and after a crisis, including what life-safety actions to take.
During an Earthquake
If an earthquake happens while you’re at work, drop and cover to avoid falling debris and glass and try to reach the nearest safe place in the office. If you can’t reach one of the previously identified safe places, you can:
- Immediately stand in a doorway or get under heavy furniture, such as a desk or table, away from windows or other glass, or
- If outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, street lights, and power lines.
The Crisis Team will initiate the incident management plan for your location. Rely on your training and following the instructions they provide.
After an Earthquake
Unless otherwise instructed by your Crisis Team, the following are guidelines to help you evacuate the building:
- Be aware of possible gas leaks, fallen power lines, and sewer main breaks. If you smell gas or hear a hissing noise, open a window, evacuate the building immediately, and turn off the gas at the outside main valve, if possible.
- Check that predetermined evacuation routes and collection points are safe—if not, choose another route.
- Listen to news reports for further instructions and updates.
How We Can Help
As always, the Preparis Portal contains detailed information on how you can prepare, respond, and recover from threats. With our team of subject matter experts, we can provide customizable table top exercises to get your company thinking in the right direction so you can generate an incident management plan that will prepare you for any threat—from earthquakes to data breaches.
Marlia Fontaine-Weisse is the Content Manager for Preparis.