You hear a rumbling, then a deafening roar. At that moment, the building that houses your workplace splits in two! Nearly one half of it drops into an abyss. What do you do if your find that your business is at the epicenter of a mammoth earthquake? Even more proactively, how should a business owner prepare so that her business doesn’t “go under,” so to speak? There are at least four necessary steps that every business owner can take to plan for one of the worst natural disasters of which Mother Nature is capable.
An Ounce of Preparedness
Every business owner should have a disaster preparedness plan visibly posted, especially if those businesses are in areas where earthquakes are known to occur. Locate areas of protection within your place of business. Underneath sturdy desks, heavy tables, and strong interior door frames are ideal places to take cover. Stay away from any sizable objects that are not bolted down or otherwise secure.
Somewhere within the preparedness plan, should include a way to signal for help in case someone is trapped. An agreed-upon signal, like striking an object with a tool or fist, or having some sort of noisemaking instrument, like an air horn or whistle, is great for attracting the attention of others in the building or first responders. Finally, the plan should include the location of the emergency disaster and first-aid kit and where to turn off the gas line. The emergency disaster kit should include enough water, canned food, matches, flashlights with working batteries, blankets, and other necessary items for several people to survive for up to five days.
Drop, Shield, and Cling
In a fire, the familiar admonishment to “Stop, drop, and roll” has likely saved many lives. For earthquakes, it should be “Drop, shield, and cling.” This may be the most important and life-saving thing a person can do in an earthquake. Those who are caught in an earthquake should find a nice-sized desk or table, preferably one that is bolted or secured, and get under it, shielding the head and neck area. Next, it is imperative to cling for dear life. If a person is high up, he should get to low, open ground as fast as possible, away from anything large or heavy that could fall on him.
There should be handy information on all employees and working staff within the building. Names, phone numbers, and addresses should be readily available in order to properly account for everyone present and missing. It is best if this information is both stored electronically and written down or typed.
It is wise to make sure that the building or office area is earthquake-ready. A local zoning board can help to evaluate the readiness of a business. If there are any significant cracks in the ceiling or foundations, these need immediate repair. An expert might need to be consulted if there are signs of structural damage or weakness. The foundation should be properly braced and all buildings comprising a business should be up to code. If needful, concrete repairs should be made.
Earthquakes can take a real toll on your brick-and-mortar business, but you can take these simple measures to ensure the safety of you and your employees. While you may have to deal with structural damage, at least your people will be safe.