Emergency Response: What To Do When Disaster Strikes
It seems not a week goes by without another report of a natural disaster or act of mass violence. Shootings, earthquakes, flooding… the reports can be overwhelming. Sometimes it may seem like you are helpless to these types of events, but you don’t have to be.
Although learning how to respond to emergency situations cannot prevent terrible things from happening, it can definitely help you react to them more quickly and efficiently, which can save your life and the lives of those around you. Here are some emergency situations and what to do if they occur:
- Drop to the ground and take cover under sturdy furniture.
- Keep cover until the shaking stops.
- If you are not around sturdy furniture, seek cover by leaning or kneeling against an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
- Stay away from windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, and outside doors
- If you are outside, stay there and move away from buildings, streetlights, poles and utility wires.
- Be aware of advance warnings.
- Listen to your local radio and television for up-to-date weather information.
- If there is a “hurricane watch” alert (meaning hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours), bring anything inside that might blow away in the wind and prepare to cover all windows with shutters or plywood.
- If there is a “hurricane warning” alert (meaning hurricane conditions are expected within 26 hours), listen to the advice of local officials. Leave the area if you are instructed to do so. If you are not evacuated from the area, stay indoors and away from windows. Close all interior doors and brace external doors. Take refuge in a small room, closet or hallway on the lowest level and lie on the floor under a sturdy piece of furniture. Keep curtains and blinds closed, and stay indoors and wait, even if there is a lull. You could be in the eye of the storm. Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
- The signs of a tornado are an approaching cloud of debris (even if a funnel shape is not visible) and the air becoming very still.
- If there is a “Tornado Watch” alert (meaning a tornado possible in your area), remain alert and listen to radio or television for further details
- If there is a “Tornado Warning” alert (meaning a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar in your area), get to a building or storm shelter. If you’re in a building, find refuge in the basement or hallway. Stay away from windows and avoid wide-span roof areas. Get under a sturdy piece of furniture if possible, and use your arms to protect your neck and head.
Bomb Threat Call Response
- Remain calm
- Keep the caller on the line as long as you can
- Get as much information from the caller as you can by asking a lot of questions
- Ask the caller questions like: When is the bomb going to explode? Where is the bomb right now? What kind of bomb is it? What does it look like?
- Document the time and date of the call
- Document the age and gender of the caller
- Make note of the exact words/phrases used by the caller
- Note any background noises such as motors running, music playing, etc.
- Listen for identifiable speech patterns such as an accent, lisp, slurred speech or stuttering
- After you receive a threat the first step to take is to follow your company’s emergency action plan, if they have one in place. Then report any information you know to your superior and the police. Finally, evacuate the facility as directed by management.
Workplace Violence Response
- If violence has not yet occurred but it is likely (an individual has a knife or gun drawn), be sure to speak slowly, calmly and clearly with the offender if communication is possible.
- If a violent act has occurred, remain calm, contact emergency personnel, and then let a trained individual handle the situation if they are available. Get as many people away from the situation as you can and be sure not to not do anything to put yourself or others at risk. Lastly, observe, document and report the incident to your supervisor.
- Get out of the building or area in which the fire is located
- Never open doors that are warm to the touch; use a second way out
- If there is smoke, crawl low under it
- If smoke, heat or flames are blocking your exit routes, stay in the room with the doors closed. If possible, place a wet towel under the door and call 9-1-1, then open a window and signal for help.
- Once you escape from the fire’s location, do not return to it
- If you have a designated meeting place, go to it and call for help if you have not already