Does Your Company Have An Emergency Action Plan?

Michele Warg
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If you're unsure if your company has an emergency action plan, it means that even if one exists, it either isn't adequate or hasn't been implemented properly. The point of an emergency action plan is to let employees know how things proceed in the event of an emergency. Communicating its existence and key points are essential parts of the plan. Follow this process to create a quality plan for your business.

1. Create a Team

A knowledgeable team is essential to developing a great emergency action plan. Keep the team small to avoid conflict while developing the plan. Ideally include a member of management, someone with experience in developing plans or handling emergencies, and the person who will be responsible for implementing the plan in the event of an emergency. This should be an office manager or administrative assistant who is familiar with most of the members of your organization and their activities.

2. List Procedures

List possible emergency situations and how to proceed in the event of each emergency. Include items such as fire alarms, earthquakes, hostile people and gas leaks. Be comprehensive. It is better to include too many situations than to miss a real emergency that might occur. Remember to include last minute responsibilities for key personnel in your emergency action plan, such as shutting off the gas or powering down technology systems.

3. Keep Track of People

Include easy methods for tracking where each employee is during an emergency. Add places to meet up outside and quick methods for doing head counts to makes sure everyone is accounted for following an evacuation. Don't forget to include methods for tracking and ensuring the safety of visitors to your building. Decide how a building sweep is to be conducted if it is necessary and who is responsible for which areas.

4. Create Visual Aids

Add maps or diagrams of your building and property showing evacuation routes and places for gathering in the event of an emergency. Clearly mark all exits, fire extinguishers, first aid kits and system shut-off valves. Laminate your emergency action plan visuals, and keep them in a highly accessible location, ready to grab and go when they are needed.

5. Plan for Communication

A great plan includes information about dealing with emergency personnel and the media. Who is responsible for talking to fire fighters or the police? What types of statements are permissible when speaking with reporters. Who contacts landlords or building management companies?

6. Initiate Disaster Recovery

The final part of your emergency action plan should include steps to initiate any necessary disaster recovery processes. This includes accessing data from backup storage, getting critical business components up and running as soon as possible, and handling insurance claims.

After the emergency action plan is created, it is equally important to communicate its existence and key points to every employee. Have regular emergency drills to ensure people are familiar with evacuation procedures. Yearly reviews and training for new employees keep everyone up to date with your emergency protocols.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at



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