Is your business's emergency plan gathering dust on the shelf? It's a tough question to answer—if all goes well, you'll never need to use your emergency plan. But if all doesn't go well, you want that plan to be up-to-date, effective and ready to go.
One of the ways I encourage people to create, evaluate and revise their emergency preparedness plans is the "squint your eyes" approach. What does that mean?
Step outside – Take a walk outside your building. Have a seat in the parking lot or on a bench where you can squint your eyes and look at your building as though you've never seen it before. You want to look at your building through new eyes and consider in the event of an emergency—any emergency—what considerations might need to be made for each part of your building, from the front to back, top to bottom.
Use your imagination – It's not fun to think of an emergency happening at your workplace. But use your imagination. Ask yourself what potential dangers there are in each part of your building. Ask yourself "what if" and consider scenarios like inclement weather, natural disasters, fire, evacuation, criminal activity and any others that might impact your building.
Take notes – As you think through these scenarios, applying them to every part of your building, take notes. This is crucial—these notes should be the basis to create or revise your emergency plan. They can help you to visualize procedures, supplies and anything else that might be necessary in the event of an emergency.
Be inclusive – An emergency plan is about much more than just the building itself, though. Make sure you're also taking your workers into consideration. Your plan needs to account for the human element, considering factors like worker location and mobility to ensure your plan works for everyone in your building.
Location, location, location – Your plan needs to work for every location, too. If your business has multiple locations, a one-size-fits-all plan won't cut it. Create a plan with a strong foundation, then make sure to customize as needed for any additional locations you're planning for.
There's a lot more to preparing your office for emergencies, but having a documented, frequently reviewed plan is a strong basis for keeping your workers and your customers safe. When's the last time you took a walk around your building for a fresh perspective?