Earthquake Preparedness


I recently moved from the Midwest to Los Angeles to take a great management job. As part of my initiation, my new team took me to see that movie “San Andreas.”  I have to admit, it made me nervous! Do you have any earthquake safety tips that will soothe my fears?

Dear, Shaking in Your Boots,

Every region has its natural disasters. If you’re from the Midwest, tornadoes were probably your biggest threat. The southeast has hurricanes (the “best” of all natural disasters, in my opinion, because you get plenty of advance notice.) Wherever you live, learn how to prepare for a natural disaster, and then try to stop worrying. As the saying goes, “Most of the stuff people worry about never happens.”

Building_EarthquakeMillions of people worldwide will participate in the Great Shakeout Earthquake Drill on October 15 at 10:15 AM. You can register your company to, as the website says, “have peace of mind that you, your family, your co-workers and millions of others will be better prepared to survive and recover quickly from our next big earthquake.” Go directly to the Resources page to peruse the appropriate manuals, posters and flyers for an earthquake drill.

The most important thing to remember is Drop, Cover, and Hold On if you are indoors during an earthquake.

  • DROP to your hands and knees.
  • COVER your head and neck under a sturdy table or desk.
  • HOLD ON to your shelter (or to your head and neck) until the shaking stops.

In a high-rise building, stay away from windows, and don’t use the elevator. To avoid collapsing windows or building facades, remain inside if you are inside. If you are outdoors, find a safe area clear of buildings, power lines, trees, and signs.

To prepare for any disaster, keep an emergency supply kit on hand. Visit for a list of recommended items.

Readers: Will you be participating in The Great Shakeout?

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Emergency Preparedness in the Workplace
Natural Disaster Preparation for Managers

Emergency Preparedness in the Workplace

Dear, Anita,

Every time a natural disaster makes headlines, I start to worry about our office safety. What if something happens during work hours? Can you offer me any tips to implement an emergency preparedness plan for my workplace?

Dear, Dorothy,

Tornadoes and hurricanes and earthquakes. Oh, my! As if natural disasters weren’t enough, workplaces sometimes have to deal with broken water mains, fires, accidents, and rare cases of disgruntled employees going postal. While I’d like to be an eternal optimist, I find it’s wise to observe the scout motto, “Be prepared.”

TornadoThe American Red Cross website is a great place to start your emergency preparedness planning: Membership is free in its Red Cross Ready Rating Program, which offers an online self-assessment tool, along with resources to help you implement an emergency plan for your workplace.  Steps include obtaining safety equipment, writing both an emergency plan and Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP), and educating employees.

Part of the plan will be evacuation procedures. How will all employees be alerted? What is the emergency escape route or the shelter-in-place site for your building? Where is the external assembly area to account for employees after an evacuation?

Medical assistance may be required in some emergencies. Are your first aid kits up to date? Even if one person is designated to call emergency personnel, it never hurts for anyone and everyone to dial 911.

What happens if your office space does sustain some damage? The Continuity of Operations Plan establishes a back-up plan for daily operation of essential business functions. Reach out now to suppliers, vendors, and other businesses to create procedures to implement in the event of disaster.

Once you have your company’s emergency preparedness plan in place, be sure to communicate it to every single employee. Schedule an annual practice drill. You’ll find most staff members won’t mind a break from their usual tasks to protect their personal safety and the source of their livelihood. For a few laughs, and some pointers on how NOT to conduct your mock training exercise, enjoy this fire drill clip from the sitcom “The Office”:

Readers: Does your workplace have an emergency plan in place? When was the last time you practiced a building evacuation drill?

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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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