I was recently in an airport security line quickly removing my laptop and quart bag of travel-size liquids from my backpack, flopping my carry-on suitcase onto the belt, removing my shoes and checking my pockets so that I wouldn’t add time to whatever had already caused the line to come to a screeching halt in front of me. (FYI: It was someone with a warehouse club size jar of peanut butter.)
As I plopped my shoes into a bin, something on the other side of the X-ray scanner caught my eye: A familiar white 6-gallon bucket with a bright blue lid. In the lid was a hose that led up, up, up to a leak diverter!
It’s so neat to see New Pig products in action! The leak diverter was quietly doing its job of catching an overhead leak and preventing that leak from dripping onto the heads of unsuspecting travelers or, worse, landing on the X-ray scanner and taking out this security line, which would mean an even longer wait.
Now, some of you are probably thinking, “Uh – Karen… that’s really not a disaster,” and you’re right. But, because this airport was prepared, they were able to respond quickly before the situation became disastrous. That’s what’s important here. Disasters don’t happen every day, but when they do, you need to be ready.
So, let’s look at disasters. In the “natural” category, we’ve got hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes and wildfires, to name a few. We also have “manmade” disasters that include things like big chemical and oil spills and acts of terrorism. Your facility needs to be prepared for all of them.
That’s where a business continuity plan (BCP) comes into play. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and ready.gov offer some great templates for these plans. It’s still up to you as the facility owner or manager to be prepared for any potential disaster.
We’ll cover all of the things that go into a good BCP another time, but to get you started, here are five things that every facility should have on hand:
1. Spill Supplies
Spill kits are important to absorb any water that enters your building during a storm or flooding, but they are only part of the equation. Consider other items as well, such as drain covers, shovels, brooms, garbage bags and vacuums.
Even with emergency lighting that should come on after the power goes out, it’s still a good idea to have an ample supply of flashlights and batteries on hand. They’re an essential tool for search and rescue operations and a great resource outdoors when you’re trying to gather and account for everyone in the dark.
3. First Aid Supplies
First aid supplies are likely to be on hand in many facilities to satisfy Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements, but they may not be designed for the types of injuries that are common after disasters. If yours aren’t, be sure to stock supplies that are more likely to be needed after a disaster, including splints, gauze and sterile saline solutions.
4. Personal Protective Equipment
After a disaster, there’s often a lengthy cleanup process that is needed to get things back to normal. Gloves, glasses, suits, respirators and other personal protective equipment are often hard to obtain following disasters. Have these supplies on hand to keep people safe and get cleanup operations underway quickly.
5. Patch and Repair Items
Leaking tanks and broken pipes are common after large disasters. Fill a toolbox with wrenches, shut-offs, epoxy repair putty and other items that responders will need to stop liquids from flowing. If water is flowing into your building through holes in the roof, keep some leak diverters on hand (like the airport did!) until the roof can be repaired.
After you find places to store all of these items, be sure that employees know where they are and how to use them. Otherwise, preparing ahead of time is worthless.
Disaster preparedness and BCPs are things that not too many people like to spend time doing. Even if you haven’t developed your own BCP, stocking up on the above products will keep your facility more prepared to handle a disaster.
You tell us: What disaster preparedness supplies do you keep on hand?