What if an earthquake happens when you’re at work?

Getting home to loved ones and pets will probably be top-of-mind if there’s an earthquake while you’re at work. But depending how far you are from home, this may not happen for several days if The Big One hits. That’s why it’s important to be as prepared as possible.

Image from shakeoutbc.ca

Image from shakeoutbc.ca

“It’s amazing to see people who go to work in high heeled shoes and don’t even think about what would happen if there was an earthquake,” says Jackie Kloosterboer, the emergency planning coordinator for the City of Vancouver. “How will they get home? They’re not walking too far in a pair of high heels.”

Jackie leads more than 100 seminars a year to help people prepare for earthquakes – and many of them are businesses. This service is free to people in the City of Vancouver, and Jackie does one-hour lunch-and-learn sessions for organizations.

“It’s important to have your grab-and-go kit because you might be stuck at work for a few days,” Jackie says. “For people who travel bridges, you’re not getting home. The bridges will be closed, so you’ll feel a whole lot better knowing your family has emergency supplies in place, and you’ll be a lot better off if you have emergency supplies at work.”

Here are some of the most important things you will need at work:

* Extra medications
* Food and water
* Cash and copies of your ID
* Proper footwear
* Jeans and a jacket

What’s under your desk?

The safest place to be during an earthquake is under a sturdy table or desk – so don’t pile a bunch of stuff under your desk. I’ve done this in the past, and hadn’t thought of this before.

“I’ve seen a lot of desks where people can’t get under them,” Jackie says.

Many schools and organizations take part in an annual earthquake drill known as The Great British Columbia ShakeOut. Check out their website for much more information and seminars in areas outside Vancouver. It’s on October 15 at 10:15 a.m.

Also check out Emergency readiness makes good business sense in the Sept/Oct 2015 issue of WorkSafe Magazine.

Planning for natural disasters is not covered in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, but obviously it’s still a good idea. Thanks to Jackie, who will be speaking at Bridging the Gap, the construction safety conference on November 13-14, 2015 in Richmond, BC.

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