emergency plan evacuation kit natural disaster

“Desk Prep”: Emergency Plan for the Office

Q: Where do most of us spend our days?
A: At the OFFICE!!!

Given this rather depressing fact, chances are pretty high that you’ll be staring at your company-issued computer screen when a disaster strikes.

Thankfully, a lot of corporations have solid emergency response plans in place, but even so…if you’re sitting in your office all by your lonesome when an 8.9 earthquake rocks the building, let’s face it: you’re likely going to be responsible for getting your own damn self to the predesignated group assembly area!

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what you can do on your own behalf to prepare for emergencies in the Belly of the Corporate Beast.


Keep a flashlight and smoke hood handy

emergency plan evacuation kit natural disaster

Even if you know the routes out of your building better than a horse knows the way back to the barn, having a bright light to shine in times of chaos and calamity brings an element of control and calm. Your smartphone flashlight will do in a pinch, but nothing beats the concentrated high beam of the real thing. Plus, in a major catastrophe, you’ll want to conserve your phone battery for communication, not illumination.

And if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you already know this: in case of fire, it’s the SMOKE that kills most folks, not the flames. Buying yourself a few extra minutes of breathable air by way of a smoke hood can truly mean the difference between life and death.

Find TWO emergency evacuation routes from your office, as well as commonly used lunch areas, conference rooms, etc.

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In large corporations, your office safety coordinator should be able to help you determine these routes. In smaller organizations, you’ll need to figure this out for yourself.

Grab a few colleagues while you plot your escape paths. At worst, they’ll think you’re weird…but at least they’ll get a little exercise and knowledge out of the excursion.

Put together a “go bag”

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A “go bag” is just a backpack containing stuff you’ll need to survive for at least three days. This is a classic “prepper” suggestion, but there’s a reason it’s so popular: if a big disaster strikes and you can’t get home for a couple of days, you’ll be mighty glad to have your essentials at hand. We’re talking at least a 3-day supply of medications, spare glasses, clean undies, etc. In a pinch, you can buy a pre-made kit, but it’s way better to built your own custom version.

You can go for more days’-worth of supplies if you like, but more supplies equals more space and more weight. For the office, I recommend sticking to three days of goodies for your bag. If you drive to work, you can put a secondary bag with additional supplies in the trunk of your car.

Keep comfortable walking shoes under your desk

emergency plan evacuation kit natural disaster office emergency plan

I’ve written before about the folly of high heels. Sure, heels can look hawt. And in some workplace locales, they’re considered required dress for women. But if a disaster strikes—or if you just need to haul bootie from one meeting to another—high heels are simply impractical, if not full-on foolish.

If I haven’t convinced you to adopt flat-soled shoes as your footwear of choice, at least stash a pair of practical shoes in your office…and in case you can’t make it back to your desk after disaster strikes, it’s not a bad idea to keep a pair of foldable ballet flats in your purse, too.

Track down the nearest office first aid kit…and make sure it’s stocked

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I’ve never worked in an office that didn’t have at least a minimal first aid kit in the break room. But I HAVE worked in plenty of places where that poor first aid kit was more picked over than a day-old Thanksgiving turkey carcass. People are forever needing aspirin and band-aids, but for some reason, these items are rarely replaced in a timely fashion.

If you don’t already have an office safety coordinator tasked with keeping the first aid kit in full fettle, consider volunteering for the task. Hey, your coworkers already think you’re weird because of that time you insisted they help you find emergency evacuation routes, remember? 😜

Find the nearest office AED…and learn how to use it!

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CPR is awesome and should be learned by everyone old enough to perform effective chest compressions…but did you know that CPR alone only gives a victim a 10{5b94df0808d5051ae4460ba229ec68b809d99f898aebd4fa5019c7ba642362c2} chance of survival?? Add an AED (Automated External Difibrillator) to the equation, however, and that survival rate jumps up to 60{5b94df0808d5051ae4460ba229ec68b809d99f898aebd4fa5019c7ba642362c2}!!

If your office doesn’t offer a CPR/AED certification course, suck it up and sign up for an 8-hour weekend class with the Red Cross. You’ll be doing a good deed for your fellow humans, and think of the awesome Instagram fodder you’ll score in the process (kidding, but only sorta!).

* * * * *

So this is a list of the low-hanging fruit when it comes to a personal office emergency plan. You’ll certainly come up with other ideas specific to your own situation and location…which I would LOVE for you to share in the comments below!

And please remember: thinking about saving your own skin is NOT selfish! After all, it’s only by taking care of yourself that you’ll be able to adequately render aid to others.

Want to see more articles on day-to-day readiness? Or maybe you’d rather have me focus on how to cope with major disasters? If you want to be part of the crew that is helping steer the future direction of this blog, sign up at  http://bit.ly/readybetty. I’ll even throw in a free Emergency Guide JUST FOR THE LADIES! 

Comments 2

  1. I developed a Work Place Emergency Kit (WPEK) a few years back that I keep stored at my desk. Along with what I typically carry on my daily, the combined gear covers just about any scenario that I may come across. The one item that I didn’t think about that you have above is a fire hood. I will definitely be adding one to the kit.

    I could almost write a blog post in response to this detailing my kit and how I developed it.

    1. Post

      Papa Prep, I LOVE that you have a WPEK!! Glad I was able to add to it via the fire hood. I’d love to hear more about your kit in detail!

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