Seek Shelter or Stay in Place

January 13, 2016

With the winter months upon us and the inevitability of El Nino, businesses across the nation should have their Emergency Response Plans in place. One important component of a company’s plan will be the decision to “Seek Shelter” or “Stay in Place”.

Here is a check-list of things to consider:

What is the type of hazard? To effectively shelter, you must first consider the hazard type and then choose a place that is safe for that particular hazard. For example, in the case of a tornado, a “shelter” room should be located in a basement or it should be an interior room on the lowest level away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls.
Where would you go to shelter? Sheltering outside the hazard area might include staying at another location, seeking commercial lodging or staying in a mass-care facility operated by a disaster relief group.
Do you have an Emergency Response Plan in place & have the people who are accountable for specific emergency actions been properly educated and trained?
Have you checked your local authority resources?   The safest locations to seek shelter vary by each type of hazard. Stay informed about sheltering suggestions for each separate hazard. Local authorities will have the best options based on the specific region where your business is located.
Are you considering MassCare Shelter? Even though masscare shelters often provide water, food, medicine and basic sanitary facilities, you should take your disaster supply kit with you so you will have the supplies you and your employees may require. Search for open shelters by texting SHELTER and a Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA). Ex: Shelter 01234 (standard text rates apply)
Do you have written procedures on Evacuation Guidelines? (see below)
Do you have written procedures for Sealing a Room? (see below)


Evacuation Guidelines

Plan your routes and meeting places.   Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency and know the evacuation routes to get to those destinations.
Have vehicles prepared for transportation. If you have a companycar or van, keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate.
Know the routes away from your location. Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency. Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.   Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.  Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas.
Have an emergency supply kit available.
Have battery-powered radios available to follow local evacuation instructions.
Have a plan for pets.
Have a plan for disabled persons.


Sealing a Room

There may be circumstances when staying put and creating a barrier between you and potentially contaminated outside air, a process known as “sealing the room,” is a matter of survival. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to take this kind of action.

Bring everyone inside to a designated location.
Lock doors, close all windows, air vents and fireplace dampers.
Turn off fans, air conditioning and forced air heating systems.
Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
Go into an interior room with few windows, if possible.
Seal all windows, doors and air vents with 2-4 mil. thick plastic sheeting and duct tape. Consider measuring and cutting the sheeting in advance to save time.
Cut the plastic sheeting several inches wider than the openings and label each sheet.
Duct tape plastic at corners first and then tape down all edges.
Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to seal gaps so that you create a barrier between yourself and any contamination.
Watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.  

We hope this information is useful when preparing your Emergency Response Plans. At The Armstrong Company Insurance Consultants, we are dedicated to the protection of our clients’ assets through education and insurance placement. Contact us today and see how we can work for you!

The Armstrong Company Insurance Consultants  (License #0440075)