In an emergency, you will need some basic supplies. You may need to get by without power or tap water. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. Depending on the situation, you may have to shelter in place with staff, so it is ideal that you have resources on hand to support your team.
Be prepared. Stay Safe: Emergency kits
It is important that you have plans in place for your business – so that you and your employees are prepared for any emergency. We’ve created an easy checklist to follow for assembling a well-stocked emergency kit.
Essential kit items:
- Water – 4L per person per day (for 3 to 7 days)
- Food – canned and non-perishable items (supply for at least 3 days)
- Manual can opener
- Flashlights – hand-crank or battery-powered
- First aid kit
- Radio – hand-crank or battery-powered
- Batteries (various sizes), phone charger battery packs
- Matches/lighter, candles
- Spare keys (business)
- Cash (bills & coins) (ATMs & Credit systems may be down)
- Knife or multi-tool
- Rolls of toilet paper
- Hand sanitizer
- Garbage bags/Ziploc bags
- Set of 2-way radios with batteries
- Notepad and pen
- Copies of important business documents and backup data, e.g. banking, payroll information, insurance policies, etc. (printed, USB drive, or cloud backup)
- Copy of Business Emergency Plan, including emergency contact list for staff
Special essential items:
- Basic toiletries
- Masks, soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes
- Medications (supply of over-the-counter drugs such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids, or laxatives)
Additional items to consider:
- Supply of emergency blankets or sleeping bag to support a group of people
- Seasonal clothes and footwear, including winter hats & gloves
- Playing cards or small board games
- Water purifying tablets
- Household chlorine bleach
- Roll of duct tape
- Rope or string
- Work gloves
- Fire extinguisher
- Generator, with extra fuel
Storing your kit:
Find a container to store all your items in one place. A backpack or something with wheels will make the container easier to transport.
Find a central, easily accessible place to permanently store your Emergency Kit. You need it to be out of the way of daily life, but easy to access in the event of an emergency. Ensure everyone in your workplace knows where it is stored.
Check the contents twice a year to refresh food, water and batteries and double check any medications, etc.
Hot tip: You should check your kit twice a year to ensure food safety, battery power, etc. An easy way to remember is to schedule your Emergency Kit refresh to happen when you change your clocks in the spring and fall.
Stay safe. Be ready: Tips for keeping your employees and your business safe
Have plans and resources in place so you and your employees are ready for any emergency.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Make sure you have smoke alarms in your place of business. Test the alarm and check the batteries twice a year – make it part of your routine when you change the clocks in the spring and fall. Note that some managed buildings have their alarms hardwired into their emergency system. Follow up with your property manager to ensure they are being properly maintained and tested.
- In most emergencies, if you are required to evacuate, you will not be permitted to use the elevator. If you or someone on your team has mobility issues and are unable to use the stairs it is important that you have an emergency plan in place. Notify your property manager or emergency personnel of the needs of your employee(s) and ask your property manager to add their name to the persons requiring assistance list as part of your building’s Fire Safety Plans. You may also want to ensure you have an internal plan for your team members so that they are aware of who on their floor may need assistance in the event of an emergency.
- Consider the risks. During a power outage, your business may experience IT failures. Consult with your IT support team and ensure you have a proper backup system in place to secure your data and avoid any technology or equipment damage.
- Have a plan in place for evacuation routes out of your floor or our building including the location of stairwells or fire escapes. Ensure everyone in your team is familiar with the routes and you have an agreed upon meeting place outside the building.
- Know the emergency plans for your building. Ask your landlord or property manager for a copy of the building’s Fire Safety Plan. Share it with everyone working on your team.
- Know who to call. Have the contact information for your property manager or landlord and keep it with other emergency information, stored in your emergency kit. Have a list of all local emergency contacts stored as well as other key contacts – primary suppliers, lawyers, banks, etc.
- Make sure you are insured. As a business, whether you rent or own and how many you employ, there are plans to cover you. Do your research and find a plan that is right for you. Keep your insurance up-to-date and keep a copy of your plan number and the contact information for your insurance company in your emergency kit.
- Some emergencies may require that you shelter in place. Consider having an emergency kit for your place of business. It should have enough resources for you and your team to survive for 72-hours. Check it twice a year to ensure it is well stocked, and food, water and batteries are fresh.
- Be ready to communicate. If your business is interrupted due to an emergency, having the ability to communicate with your clients and customers to manage their expectations is critical. Have backup copies of your client database stored safely and ensure you have access to the login information for your website and social media accounts so you can send out important updates quickly.
If you work in a multi-unit complex, emergency preparedness is a joint responsibility. It is important to understand the plans not just for your business and employees but also for your building. Talk to your landlord or property manager to find out more about the plans in place for your building. If there are none in place, encourage them to create a building plan and educate all tenants.
If you don’t already have an emergency plan in place, now is the time to start developing one. Whether you develop the plan yourself or hire a consultant, it is a good idea to invite your employees to be part of the planning. Rely on their expertise and knowledge of the business to consider all risks and opportunities. Once you have a plan in place, educate your staff and review the plan annually to ensure it is up-to-date and relevant to your current needs.
As you prepare your business emergency plan, here are a few useful links:
City of Ottawa – https://ottawa.ca/en/health-and-public-safety/emergency-preparedness
Province of Ontario – https://www.ontario.ca/page/be-prepared-emergency
Government of Canada – https://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/yprprdnssgd/index-en.aspx
Hazards at work
While electrical hazards are more noticeable in the home, they do occur in the workplace. We tend to not notice them because the responsibility usually falls to another colleague or building management.
Every business has unique electrical safety work practices depending on the electrical equipment and hazards present in the workplace. It is important to always follow specific safety work practices to keep everyone safe.
All employees should familiarize themselves with the electrical hazards that occur in their office so if they arise during the workday, they can be dealt with safely.
- Wires that are misshapen, torn or frayed could cause electrical shocks or fires.
- Replace equipment with damaged wires as soon as possible.
- Circuits that overheat can cause electrical fires.
- Understand how much amperage a circuit in your office space can sustain, and never go above that limit.
- Do not use power bars to plug an overabundance of electrical devices into the same outlet. Power bars create different routes to the same outlet, they do not create a new power source.
- Different power bars serve different purposes. When obtaining a power bar, make sure it is one that is appropriate for your needs.
Electrical and extension cords
- Always unplug cord by pulling on the plug head, rather than the cord.
- Do not press or overstretch electrical cords.
- Do not fasten cords with staples or hang other electrical equipment from the cord.
- All cords should be visually inspected for external defects prior to use.
- Never use an extension cord in place of a permanent outlet. If you need an additional outlet, contact a licensed electrician or building management.
- Never connect extension cords together. Instead, make sure to get an extension cord that is the length required.
- Ensure that you do not leave extension cords in areas where people walk frequently; they are tripping hazards and could become damaged from people walking on them.
Damaged light switch
- If a light switch is emitting heat or making a buzzing, crackling, or popping noise, turn off the breaker for that circuit and contact a licensed electrician or building management to investigate.
Other potential hazards
- Lights that flicker are an indication of a loose connection in the wiring which could result in an electrical fire.