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Disaster Services preparedness tip: School and workplace safety plans

Posted by | Jen Masotja, Director of Disaster Services

Disasters can happen at any time and anywhere. Making sure you have a plan in place for every location at which you and your family spend time is critical.

If you are away from home, do you know where to find safe shelter locations? Do you know what the emergency procedures are for your child’s school or for your workplace? Will people who count on you know what to do if you can’t reach them? Know how to make sure you and your loved ones are safe in a disaster no matter where you are.

Workplace and School Preparation

Speak with your employer and safety committee about emergency plans for the building where you work. Think about other places that you and family members regularly spend time, like your child’s school. Talk to administrators at those places about their emergency plans as well.

Ways to be safe at work and school:

  • Make sure evacuation routes and tornado shelter locations are marked on a map and posted in the building
  • Hold emergency training and drills
  • Help create an emergency kit for the facility
  • Know where fire extinguishers and Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) are located


Put together basic emergency kits for people who may not be able to do so for themselves or for those who may not think of doing it for themselves. Show them what is in the kit and talk to them about disasters. Also consider smaller go-kits for your car, office and kids’ school(s). Make sure the kit meets their specific needs. For instance, if someone takes prescription medicine, include a list of their medications and dosages. For school aged kids and college students, make sure the kit is small enough to store in the space they have available.

Connect with other people when you are developing an emergency plan for a school, workplace or organization. Get input from people who work there and other people who use the building (colleagues, teachers, facilities managers, etc.). It is especially important to include people with disabilities in your plan and to practice your plan. When we are involved in an emergency our brains can shut down or freeze, which is why developing muscle memory is important. Walk your evacuation routes, practice taking shelter under your desk, and talk through your plan.

Find out if your community has designated evacuation routes for floods, hurricanes, or other disasters, and include that information in your plans. Make sure that the plans you develop will work for everyone. Make sure to include all the people you are planning for in the planning process. An easy way to ensure this happens is to remember “Nothing about us without us.”