“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations if you live near one.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, English writer
On the 11th of December 2022, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck northwest of El Ticui, a city in Mexico. The magnitude of the earthquake shows clearly that it was not a minor quake. According to estimates, the year 2022 has seen major earthquakes as there were 11 of them above 7.0 magnitude this year whereas more than 100 quakes this year with a magnitude of 6.0-6.9.
On November 21, 2022, a major earthquake hit West Java in Indonesia with a magnitude of 5.6, in which nearly 300 lives were injured. Read about the news here. West Java suffered another earthquake of magnitude 6.1 on December 8, 2022. Read about the news here.
Such high-intensity earthquakes raise several questions if the people, their properties, and businesses are safe. Has there been any casualties? What steps are businesses taking to protect themselves against this natural calamity?
Earthquakes are a major risk to securing business continuity, as there is a direct threat to life and assets involved in this case.
This blog will discuss the impact of earthquakes on businesses and how to save lives as saving lives is the first and the most important step of business continuity.
Here are some of the major threats during an earthquake:
1. Employees could face a threat to life due to structural damage and heavy furniture which can cause injuries or in severe cases, death.
2. During an earthquake, gas leakage or an electrical short circuit causing a fire is very likely.
3. Some factories or companies might have hazardous chemicals stored in the facility. During an earthquake, people could be exposed to such chemicals which could be a direct threat to their life. Check here.
So, what aspects could an emergency response plan cover with respect to an earthquake?
It is essential that leaders and employees are trained on how to respond when earthquakes strike. If the they are not adequately trained, then their responses will not be appropriate in this situation.
“Disaster preparedness, whether its in anticipation of potential weather-related incidents or terrorist incidents require a skill set that in my mind someone has to be trained for.” - Bennie Thompson, American politician.
Tabletop exercises are discussion-based sessions where team members meet in an informal, classroom setting to discuss their roles during an emergency and their responses to a particular emergency situation. A facilitator guides the participant through a discussion of one or more scenarios.
The tabletop exercise should center around drop, cover, and hold-on method as mentioned below:
1. Drop your hands and knees to avoid falling. Generally, casualties or injuries occur when people walk or run during an earthquake.
2. Cover your head and neck with your arms so that you can protect yourself from falling debris. Take shelter below a table. Avoid glass or windows or anything that can fall.
3. Hold on to anything sturdy till the shaking stops.
Tabletop exercise should also consider the following methods:
1. Facility: Are there structural maintenance considerations, earthquake-resistant considerations, backup power supply, and accessibility considerations?
2. Human resources: Are mass notification tools available, flexible work policies, and insurance for employees, and are they trained in first aid kit usage?
3. Communication: Are communication tools available to contact first responders in case of an earthquake?
However, in case the earthquake is severe, then evacuation of employees is the best and the only option.
“We cannot stop natural disasters but we can arm ourselves with knowledge: so many lives wouldn’t have been lost if there was enough disaster preparedness.”- Peter Nemcova, Czech philanthropist.
Employees should be made aware of the following evacuation guidelines to take care of during an earthquake:
1. Always use the stairs to evacuate during a building and not the elevator under any circumstances.
2. If you are in an outdoor location, then find an open space and stay away from buildings as there is a possibility of debris collapsing.
3. Identify the scenarios when the evacuation of the building would be necessary.
4. Some earthquakes may not be severe, so it is important to take a call on when to take shelter indoors.
5. Companies must have a dedicated team dealing with evacuation drills.
6. Evacuation plans should be clear as they should have routes, maps, exits, and alternatives.
7. Also, evacuation routes should have wide doors and should not be blocked under any circumstances.
8. Signboards should clearly indicate the evacuation route in case of a disaster.
The above steps, if followed properly, could result in saving many lives and as a result awareness is needed on these steps.
As facts show, earthquakes are a major risk to life and business continuity and hence it is essential to take adequate steps to ensure that your business is ready to tackle the impacts due to an earthquake. It is important to think that in the absence of an emergency response plan and business continuity plans, there could be severe loss of life and property and could also result in the permanent closure of your business.
Do you have an Emergency Response Plan and Business Continuity Plan to make your organizations more resilient in face of an earthquake?
Gorisco has wide range of experts who are experienced in defining and designing various solutions to help organizations mitigate their risks and resolve their problems.
At Gorisco, our motto is 'Embedding Resilience' and we are committed to making the organizations and their workforce resilient. Reach out to us if you have any queries, clarifications, or need any support on your initiatives.
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