Just before 10 am on July 5, 2017, an explosion started due to a fire at McKinely Climatic Lab at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The lab includes the largest environmental chamber in the world and can be used to duplicate any climatic environment in order to test everything from automobiles to missile launchers. A 1,000 foot cordon was established and the surrounding area was evacuated. The smoke was thought to contain methyl chloride (also known as chloromethane), which is a refrigerant that is no longer widely used due to its toxicity. Though it was thought that the smoke would not cause harm to the general public, Eglin’s official Twitter account sent out a tweet urging everyone to avoid contact with the smoke. Inhalation of methyl chloride can cause a wide variety of side effects, including dizziness. Thankfully, there were no injuries due to the explosion.
We reached out to an employee at Eglin about the incident and he said, “After an individual in the office said the climatic lab was on fire, I went downstairs to see that there was black smoke billowing from the building. It was so thick you couldn’t see across the street, which is only 400 yards away. We were given instructions to go inside and turn off the hvac due to fumes and smoke. Soon law enforcement came in and told us to evacuate the area. Others further away were told to shelter in place.” When we asked him about the type of emergency plans Eglin AFB has in place for these types of situations, he responded saying, “On base we have a voice and email emergency notification system, as well as individual liaisons who act as a messenger service from the base to employees. Waiting until during an emergency is too late to develop an Emergency Action Plan and a plan that has not been exercised is just as bad as not having one.”
How Can I Prepare For an Unexpected Emergency Evacuation?
The number one way to prepare for a situation that requires an emergency evacuation is to implement an Emergency Action Plan (EAP). By implementing an EAP, you will be able to have all crucial information regarding what to do during an emergency in one spot.
OSHA requires an EAP is required to have the following minimum requirements:
- Evacuation procedures and emergency escape route assignments
- A way to report fires and other emergencies
- Names or job titles of people who can be contacted
- Procedures for employees who must remain to operate critical plant operations prior to evacuation
- Accounting for all employees/tenants
- Rescue and medical duties for employees
To read tips on how to create an EAP that does more than meet basic minimum requirements, click here.
Using Your Resources:
Since creating an EAP can be a daunting task, sometimes it’s in the best interest of the business to consider outsourcing tasks such as creating an EAP. There are many resources out there that are dedicated to ensuring that your business is prepared for even the most unexpected situation that might require an emergency evacuation and assisting you with creating those plans. For example, here at Preparis, we employee a seasoned team of experts who are dedicated to ensuring that your company not only remain compliant, but that your EAP and Business Continuity Plan (BCP) are well put together, tested and ready to be used at any given moment.
To read more about the services that Preparis offers, click here.
Read more about Preparis’ emergency notification and incident management system, click here.
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