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Emergency Preparedness

Last updated: June 2, 2017

What Does Emergency Preparedness Mean?

Emergency preparedness refers to plans and provisions that increase the likelihood that an individual or an organization is able to get through an unplanned event safely. Preparedness plans can be carried out by governments, corporations, and households.

While some emergency preparedness measures (like keeping a fully stocked first aid kit) are meant to apply across a number of situations, some are intended for specific scenarios like an earthquake, a terrorist attack, or a chemical spill.

Safeopedia Explains Emergency Preparedness

The aim of emergency preparedness is to lessen the destruction and devastation caused by unexpected events like natural disasters, sabotage, chemical spills, fires, and explosions. Emergency preparedness plans include steps for mitigating adverse situations and procedures for implementing controls during an emergency event.

Preparing for an Emergency

Emergency planning procedures can include:

  • Preparing for specific emergency events based on hazards present in the working environment (for instance, a chemical plant drafting detailed emergency procedures for chemical spills)
  • Posted instructions, including detailed of who to contact or notify during an emergency
  • Procedures to follow in the event that severe weather or a power outage makes evacuation more difficult or dangerous
  • Training sessions and drills to practice and reinforce the steps workers must follow
  • Clear lockdown and shelter-in-place procedures
  • Regularly verifying that all first aid kits and other items that may be needed during an emergency are on hand and well stocked

The 3 Stages of Emergency Preparedness

Emergency preparedness has three main stages:

Emergency Planning

  • Conducting a risk assessment to identify vulnerable and high-priority areas in order to best direct mitigation efforts
  • Mitigation efforts undertaken to reduce the likelihood of an emergency occurring in the first place
  • Preparedness, such as installing backup generators, ensuring a supply of clean drinking water, and stocking up on respirators to prevent exposure to smoke or chemicals during an emergency event
  • Establishing a response team, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities
  • Identifying muster points
  • Posting and distributing copies of a written emergency plan detailing the overall strategy and course of action needed when responding to an emergency

Emergency Response

  • Putting the emergency plan in action
  • Sheltering in place
  • Evacuating from the premises

Post-Emergency Recovery

  • Medical treatments for anyone injured or harmed
  • Cleanup and repair of the affected facility
  • Review of the event to assess the effectiveness of the emergency response plan
  • Update of the emergency plan in light of any new information gained


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