On Tuesday two earthquakes hit in unusual places: Virginia and Colorado and at this very moment hurricane Irene is bearing down on the East Coast of the United States. As a result, HR professionals are facing some tough questions about how to handle various employee situations that have or may arise from these disasters.

Innovative organizations not only provide employees with environmental, health and safety (EHS) information on the job, they also provide  EHS information to assist and prepare them off the job.

If you’re not that progressive, here’s your chance to start.

Disaster Preparedness Guide:

Plan Ahead

The first step is to make a plan so you can respond to an emergency in a calm way. Establish evacuation routes and then practice them – remember practice makes perfect.

Put Together a Survival Kit

Although we don’t like to think about disasters, be they natural or man made, it is an inevitability and the more prepared your are the better your chances of survival. After all, your goal is not only to survive the disaster itself, but to survive in the days following, especially if you are trapped until help arrives or have to evacuate. Suggested items to include:

  • Large, insulated, zippered tote with handles
  • 3 day’s (minimum) of non-perishable, ready to eat food that doesn’t require refrigeration
  • Bottled water (2 gallon per person per day)
  • manual can opener for canned foods
  • Needed medication (prescription and non-prescription)
  • Medical supplies (antibiotic oinment, bandages, band-aids, painkillers, insect repellent, latex gloves, cleansing agent, eye wash solutions, contact solution, burn ointment, etc.)
  • Portable emergency radio that doesn’t depend on electricity
  • Flashlight
  • Whistle
  • Hand tools (wrenches, pliers, hammer, etc.)
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Poncho
  • Matches
  • Towels
  • Bleach and medicine dropper
  • Items for sanitation (bucket, trash bags, shovel etc.)
  • Important documents (bank records, insurance policies and personal identification)
  • Stuffed animals or dolls for children
  • Books and games to pass the time

Take First-Aid/CPR Courses

If you’re preparing a safety team for your organization, make sure they’ve received first aid/CPR training and encourage employees who aren’t on the company safety team to also become certified. The Red Cross offers courses for a very reasonable fee.

Don’t Forget the Pets

If your employees are like most Americans, their pets are part of the family and they need special preparedness preparation too including:

  • 3 days worth of food in airtight, waterproof containers
  • Water
  • medications (if needed)
  • First aid supplies (bandages, scissors, isopropyl alcohol, saline solution)
  • Registration information
  • Vaccination records
  • Photo of your pet
  • backup lease and collar
  • ID tag
  • Pet toys and pet carrier

Is your organization and your employees ready for a disaster? How do you know? Do you have a plan? Do you practice it? Unfortunately, disasters are inevitable, but these tips and precautions can ease the stress and burden both in the workplace and at home.