That said, I think this may end up being geared more towards the company owner or someone in charge of the security of the employee, so bear with me if you can for a bit. Let’s assume that you work in an office building, and there are 25 — 50 employees on your floor. An employee comes by and said that they heard there was an emergency being discussed on the radio and everyone should shelter in place, city water supplies are being terminated so the flow of water is stopped to slow or stop contamination until further notice due to the impending emergency. The radio announcer adds that if anyone leaves their area and goes outside there is the opportunity for exposure to whatever it is that is being discussed, and anyone outside will be arrested and quarantined.
It seems there is not much to do now but wait. Hmm, when you go to the kitchenette to see what is there regarding food, there are several candy bars in the snack machine, the soda machine, lunch in the fridge that about 1/3 of the employees brought with them into work that day, several lunches that look like they have been in there a month, and about three gallons of water in the water cooler. That’s not much for having to shelter up to 50 people in for three or four days. What if the emergency is an airborne chemical or biological issue? What is going to happen if there is also no power or heat. What if you run out of water? What are you going to do for food for your employees?
This is not a good scenario. You have an emergency, you may be in charge of 50 people, and no supplies or gear that might help make a difference over the next three or four days. You are going to have some hungry, thirsty, cranky employees. You are going to need to take charge of your employees and keep them calm and collected over the next couple of days.
By the way, before I go any further, this could apply to a school, office building, hospital, nursing home, etc. I use an office building because it is the example I would be familiar with.
Now, going on…
First, is a situation like this likely? Maybe. I believe it is in a city. While not immediately likely, I believe it is likely.
Second, what can you do to prepare for such a situation? Well, here is a list of what I think might be a good prep list for up to one person in the event there is an emergency and you have to shelter in for 72 hours. I will break it down in a section for the group and for the individual.
For The Group:
- Camp Porta-Potty(s) or Buckets, plastic bags, and a big bag of lime.
- Propane Stove or Alcohol Stove(s) to boil water and cook if necessary
- Extra alcohol or propane
- Pot(s) to boil water and cook if necessary
- Emergency Radio(s)
- Water (five gallon water jugs (full) for water cooler with enough water for three days per person)
- I know that if there are 50 people in the office that 150 gallons of water could take up a lot of space. That is three 50 gallon drums of water, so you may not have enough space, so you might encourage your employees to keep ample water in their desks that they rotate.
- First Aid Kit
- Soap, toilet paper, paper towels, and Hygiene supplies
- Several flashlights and batteries (rechargeable)
- Battery recharger (solar if possible)
- Duct Tape or 100 MPH Tape
- Plastic Sheeting (to cover the windows if necessary and seal with the duct tape)
- Paper plates, plastic cups, and plastic utensils
- Condiments (salt, pepper, sugar, coffee, tea)
- Well Stocked Tool Kit
- Paracord (several hundred feet)
- Several Knives such as a Mora and multi-tools Like the Leatherman Wave for responsible individuals
- These could be group leaders. Not everyone knows how to use a knife in an emergency.
- Several decks of playing cards, board games, notebooks, additional pens, etc. to help pass the time.
- 24 hour light sticks
For the individual:
- Emergency Space Blankets or Survival Sleeping Bag Systems
- MREs, Mountain House or other freeze dried meal(s) or ER bar emergency rations for 72 hours. Research
- N95 Masks (two or three for each person) and surgical rubber gloves
- 55 Gallon Garbage bag
- A customized personal Emergency Crisis Guidebook for each employee (for the office, the link references one for the home)
Items you should have your employee bring to the office and keep there:
- Pair of tennis shoes/sneakers
- Extra water
- Several power and/or nutrition bars (tell them they should replace what they eat)
- Change of clothes to keep in the drawer of their desk
- Underwear, socks, pants/jeans, shirt and undershirt, and a light jacket
- Personal Hygiene items
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, etc.
These are just my suggestions as I am writing this without doing much research. But it would seem to me that if I were a business owner or the leader of an organization, I might stock up on at least the minimal supplies to help keep everyone safe if need be.
My place is soooo dysfunctional, I would probably have a stoke if the management suggested ANY type of emergency preparation. (I’d like to work for your friend please!)
I think while your post may be geared toward the more responsible managers of people (industry, schools, et-cetera) in my case I would not accept their direction or authority if it put myself or others in jeopardy. You need to think for yourself first.
Before Sept 11, I would have been one of those people who listened to the announcements over the PA system after the first plane hit that everything was fine and to remain in the building. “We know what’s best for you.” type stuff.
Now, I make up my own mind regardless of what my manager or whoever says that might endanger my life of health. Ultimately, you are responsible for you. People put too much faith in their leaders.
That said, my work place has ample bottled water on hand, but that’s about it. I have a good amount of stuff in my car, (right outside) that I could get to — but still a few days stuck here would be tough, especially with all the obviously oblivious people around me.
I have in my desk (looking right now) a small first aid kit, toothbrush & paste, painkillers, bottle of Febreeze, a baseball hat, a bag of oatmeal, two stale meal-replacement bars, deodorant, and 2 cans of soda. On my person, I always have a flashlight, cutting implement, and a photon LED micro-light.
Right there I’m way ahead of my co-workers, but should consider adding a few things like a battery powered radio and fresher food!
If I CAN get to my car quickly, I’d have access to a wool blanket, space blanket, more light, tools, paracord, duct tape, garbage bags — probably other junk that would make it easier as well.
When I worked in NYC, I was WAY ahead of my coworkers as well. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say I was the only person in a 100+ person office, post 9/11 that had any preps in the office with me. Everyone was either blind or expected everything to be “okay.” To me this is just the wrong attitude. Hmmm. Let’s see two Times Square threats in less than four months. And personally it is going to get more frequent… Be vigilant. Be safe.
Excellent article. I agree it’s geared more towards management than employees but still worth considering. I’m in process now of putting together a grab bag for myself and my wife just in case.
I worked in lower Manhattan on 9/11 and had nothing on hand if I had to spend the night in the office or else where in NYC. Won’t be in that situation again.
Where I work we’re required by the state of Washington (earthquake country) to have 72 hours worth of stuff for all the employees. I’d really rather not be stuck for 72 hours with what we’ve got. I have more stuff in my car, but there’s plenty of water and tarps, some cans of food and a small first aid kit.
Michael, it’s more than most people have, and that is a start.