In an emergency situation, every second counts. You don’t have time to organize or make decisions; that is why planning ahead is vital. Providing cell phones to your employees and instituting a clear-cut policy regarding emergency situations will increase employee safety and boost employee morale. There are several things you can do to get the ball rolling, these are a few best practices.
DEVELOP A SET OF EMERGENCY PROCEDURES AND MAKE THE CELL PHONES A PART OF THEM.
Your office emergency procedures will vary depending on your location, business, and office structure, but you still need to have something in place. The earthquake that rocked Washington, D.C. in 2011 caught a lot of businesses off guard. Many personnel were left wandering about, in buildings that very well could have been unstable, as they tried to figure out evacuation procedures. The time to develop procedures for evacuations, active shooter on the property, and storm alerts is before anything happens, not in the moment.
DEVELOP A CELL PHONE POLICY.
A company cell phone policy is good to have, even if you aren’t dealing with an emergency situation. However, as you develop your policy make sure to include emergency communication. This communication can extend beyond actual phone calls to include text messaging and instant messaging.
INSTITUTE A CASCADE LIST.
A cascade list is a very effective way to ensure the safety of all your employees. Each section is listed with the supervisor at the head of the list. In the event of an emergency, the manager activates the list by calling each supervisor. The supervisor calls the first person on his or her list. That person calls the next person and so on until they get to the end. The last person on the list calls the supervisor. If a person cannot be accounted for, the supervisor should be contacted immediately and the supervisor will then reactivate the list at the point where it ended. Company cell phones are very good for this because many people are hesitant to give out their personal cell numbers.
ALLOW TEXTING AS A MODE OF COMMUNICATION.
There are times when cell phones won’t work due to increased activity or other issues. However, texting may still work and may be a viable form on emergency communication. This was the case in the DC earthquake. As people scrambled to call loved ones the system became overburdened and soon no calls were going through. However, many people were still able to text. Restricting your employees to just one form of communication in a crisis is never a good idea. Texting, or SMS, is often more reliable than calling.
DEVELOP A POLICY OF EMERGENCY EMAILING.
Email is not as reliable as texting, but it can and should be incorporated into your emergency procedure. There are times when an employee can email when they cannot do anything else. With the emergence of smartphone technology, individuals can access their email and do other online activities via their phone. Email should not be ruled out.
Communication in an emergency can be hectic. People are often upset, scared, even panicked. Planning and education will help ensure that emergency situations are handled as smoothly as possible. You can help your employees by doing drills with them that include activating the cascade list. The more prepared they are, the more confident they will be in an emergency and the less likely they are to be injured.