Are You Ready?

You are one among millions. Photo by Anna Dziubinska.

Let’s make this clear : If you have a family, the first thing to do in an emergency is to make sure they are safe. If you work in an office, you need to have your Get Home Bag (GHB) and gear ready.

Obviously it all depends on your work environment and how far away you live from your office. If it’s just a few miles away, then you should have no problems. If you depend on public transport and you leave really far away, then it will take time for you to get there and you’ll need more gear.

We’ve heard about the Japanese office workers who walked 35 kilometres to reach home after the earthquake – will you be able to do that when the time comes?

Getting Back Home

Here’s my scenario: My office is about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) away from home. Depending on the route I take, it could go up to 15 kilometers. I work on the 7th floor of a mixed office / shopping mall building. My car is 9 floors down in the basement.

In the event of a severe emergency, I’ll need to :

1. Get myself to safety. Walk down 7 floors to the ground floor, through the nearest emergency exit.
2. Find a way back home.

What’s your scenario?

Situational awareness

In order to get out, you need to know where you are. How well do you know your workplace?

The next time you come in to work, turn off the iPod and take a look around. Take photos of your immediate location – you’ll find details you never noticed before. Know your exits – take note of where the emergency exits are. Do you have to go through indoor emergency routes, or an outdoor fire escape?

Where’s your nearest emergency exit?

Do you know exactly how to get home from your workplace? Unless you cycle or walk to work, you might not be familiar with the exact route home. You should make sure – follow these instructions to print out your detailed route home.

Do you know your route home?

Skills and fitness

How fit (or unfit) are you? Sure you can carry your Get Home Bag, but are you able to lug that thing a few floors down and then walk across town with it? You don’t need to be a gym rat, but you should try to keep yourself in good condition.

One exercise you can do is just walk the route home. If it’s not possible to walk all the way, perhaps you can walk on the treadmill for however many miles it takes – just so that you can feel it. You can time it and have a reasonable estimate on your arrival time.

Walk the distance home on your treadmill. Photo by hectorir.

How are your first aid skills? If you’re in a hurry to evacuate, you won’t have time to set dislocated shoulders or splint broken limbs, but you should know enough to patch yourself up (and others) should the need arise. Your local Red Cross would have first aid courses available for the public.

Do you have basic first aid skills? Photo by NASA.

Assemble your escape and evacuation gear. Get your Get Home Bag ready, and make sure you have your Every Day Carry on your person all the time. It’s very important that you test each item in your gear, and learn how to operate your gear properly. A disaster situation is no time to learn how to tune your emergency radio to the right channel.

The Reading List

1. Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by Neil Strauss. The second half of the book works as a blueprint for the type of courses that you can take to prepare you.
2. SAS Urban Survival Handbook by John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman. Just as useful as the bestselling non-urban version of this book.
3. When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes by Cody Lundin. Fun and practical advice.

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