Not all emergencies are alike, of course. While some, like a raging fire, will require a hasty evacuation from the building, others will warrant a stay-in-place (also known as a shelter-in-place) response. These options are sometimes deployed during a human threat, a chemical attack or spill, or an extreme weather event.
Recent headlines are awash with reports of intense weather, like tornados and flash flooding. And as the potential for winter storms looms on the horizon, it’s important to discuss this lesser-discussed safety measure with your colleagues and employees so you can make sure your business is prepared.
What is a stay-in-place emergency response?
When members of the public are told to ‘stay in place,’ it’s because going outdoors and venturing from their current location poses more of a threat than keeping inside.
Staying in place might be necessary until the threat has passed or has been minimized in terms of severity. This could take hours and, in extreme cases, days.
Read on to discover five ways for your business to prepare.
1. Stockpile food and drink
Keep a consistent supply of bottled water (one gallon per person per day). “Ready” — a National Public Service campaign run by the US Government — recommended buying commercially bottled water and storing it in its sealed original containers in a cool, dark place. Keeping a supply of non-perishable foods and utensils may also prove beneficial.
2. Use emergency tools
Procure essential safety tools, like evacuation stair chairs, as provided by specialist suppliers such as Evacuscape. Evacuation chairs will allow an individual with mobility challenges to be safely transported in a quick and dignified way. Being able to assist those with mobility challenges to a safe space on another floor when power may be limited, rendering elevators inoperable, is vital to a robust plan that keeps everyone secure.
3. Have items for comfort
If you live in an area that’s seen an increase in the frequency of complex weather events, consider creature comforts, too. Send a memo to team members encouraging them to keep a supply of toiletries, clean clothing and medication at work in case you’re required to shelter in place for longer than a few hours.
4. Purchase tools for communication
A battery-powered radio with spare batteries or a crank-powered radio will keep you in the loop with community updates in case the power does go down, and cell phone batteries are running low. Remember that cell phones should be used exclusively to receive emergency updates and not for scrolling on socials — prolonging battery life is vital.
5. Locate protection materials
In some emergencies, like a chemical spill where airborne contaminants are a severe threat, you may need to seal windows and doors as best you can. With that, keeping plastic sheets or tarps and duct tape in stock in a readily available location is advised.
Know what to expect
Now that we’ve covered a few tangible essentials for sheltering in place, here are some other things you can expect to deal with depending on the scenario.
You may be required to close all the windows and doors and, in some cases, to lock them. If the building is controlled by forced air to regulate temperature, you may be asked to turn it off. And in some cases, you may be told to cover doors and windows with plastic sheeting and duct tape.
The bottom line
Staying in place is just one type of emergency response. It’s important to know about the different types of emergencies so that you can formulate a plan and take pre-emptive measures on the off chance one should arise — doing so keeps you, your team members and clients as safe and comfortable as can be during a distressing time.