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July 8, 2005
Safety Tips from the Local Emergency Planning Committee:
Are You Prepared for an Emergency at Your Workplace?
Since many of us spend most of our day at our workplace, it makes sense to be prepared if an emergency happens when on the job.
The New York State Department of Health suggests that the first step in preparing for an emergency while at work is to decide how you will deal with your personal or medical needs if you have to stay in your building longer than usual. Next, make contingency plans for your family's care if you can't get home. It is also important to find out what would happen in your workplace during an emergency.
Many workplaces already have emergency plans. Know the plan, and how it affects you. Practice the plan during drills, so you will know how to get out of your building quickly. Be sure to tell your employer if you need help walking down the stairs or require some other assistance. These accommodations should be included in your workplace drills.
In an emergency, you may have to "shelter-in-place" where you work, which means staying in your building until it is safe to leave. Your individual emergency workplace plan should address your personal health concerns, such as any prescription medicine or durable medical equipment you would need, and what your family should do in your absence -- especially if they can't communicate with you. If you have a disability, know who would assist you during a workplace emergency.
The State Department of Health offers these suggestions:
- Know where there are safe places (e.g. in the stairwells, under heavy tables or desks, rooms away from windows) and dangerous places (e.g. near windows or equipment that may get knocked over).
- Know the locations of fire extinguishers, first aid equipment and fire alarms in your work area.
- Post emergency numbers in a location that is visible and accessible.
- Know the safe evacuation routes from your work area.
- Choose a family member or friend who can be contacted to help coordinate your family's whereabouts if you are separated from each other. Make sure family members know who this person is and how to contact them.
- Familiarize yourself with your children's daycare and school emergency plan and policies. Plan ahead for the care of your children if you are to become separated.
- Assemble a workplace emergency kit. Consider including comfortable walking shoes, high energy food bars, warm jacket, foil water pouches or bottled water, first aid supplies, medications, personal medical information, spare eyeglasses, flashlight with fresh batteries, and an AM/FM portable radio with fresh batteries. Keep this kit in an easily accessible place.
For more information on workplace emergency plans, visit these Web sites: www.ready.gov or www.redcross.org.
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