Most importantly, being prepared for a disaster can save lives. But being adequately prepared can also save your business money and will undoubtedly help you to bounce back and recover should a disaster occur. However, these statements are only true if your disaster preparedness plan is carefully tailored to your staff, residents, or guests.
Understanding who will interpret and enact your plan is crucial to ensuring it fulfills its mission. And that’s a safe and secure move to safety: an evacuation that empowers individuals to exit the building quickly and efficiently, one that minimizes damage to the space and company assets, and one that works to protect any surrounding structures.
Here are just a few ways a business can tailor its disaster preparedness plans to work with a building’s occupants, and not against them.
Procure the Correct Tools
For one, it’s important to have the correct emergency response tools on site that are tailored to the occupants of the building and to the building itself. For example, evacuation chairs for multi-story buildings help individuals with mobility challenges — like seniors, pregnant people, those with temporary injuries, and people in wheelchairs — to evacuate the building quickly and safely.
It’s important for key players, like management, to know their role in the event of an emergency.
For example, if the business has individuals on site who are blind or visually impaired, they will require assistance in the event of a disaster, and during an evacuation. By creating a buddy system, those who need assistance will know that aid is on its way to help them move to safety or exit the building, calmly and in good time.
Consider the Literature
Your disaster preparedness and emergency evacuation guides, maps, and the signage in your building should be tailored to the business’s everyday occupants and potential visitors.
For instance, does your business have a high population of children? If yes, extra signage at a child’s eye level will be beneficial. And does everyone on site speak English as a first language? Or would signage in multiple languages be helpful?
Ways to Prepare for a Disaster Where Everyone Is Seen
- Observe the Population: To create a fully inclusive plan, look at who visits your business daily, whether these are permanent team members who are there regularly or your doors are open to the public, creating a much wider pool of individuals.
- Identify Needs: Research and address the needs of different populations and their specific barriers or concerns by conducting a survey. This can help you identify invisible or unmet needs and requirements you were unaware of or were yet to consider.
- Focus on Preplanning: By briefing and training employees and enlisting outside help from a specialist, like a fire marshal, you’re working to identify and counter any potential stumbling blocks in the event of an emergency.
By considering and acknowledging your everyday team member’s and visitor population’s needs, you’re formulating an inclusive approach to a disaster and an evacuation should the need arise. This will not only help keep people safe, but it’s also sure to buoy confidence in the company as everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.