Emergency Action Plans ought to be more than precautionary verbiage that lives on a wall somewhere. It ought to be knowledge that lives in employees’ minds and even accompanies them home.
One way for employers and employees to get serious about Emergency Action Plans is for them to take the training home and share it with their families.
The OSHA Standard 1910.38 addresses what the EAP must consist of and how an employer must protect their most valued assets, their employees. Employers of 10 or fewer employees can get by with their plans being verbal—such as yelling “Fire!” or “Run!” or “Get out!” Employers of 11 or more employees must have a current written Emergency Action Plan. Both employers still need to properly train their employees on what actions are to be taken and where to go in the event some emergency arises at work.
Our country has a long and tragic history of workplace fires that kill more than 200 employees and injure more than 5,000 workers every single year on average.
When employers train their employees properly, a lot of them take that knowledge home with them and share it with the families. In every class I teach about fire safety or EAP plans, I always ask, “How many of you have an Emergency Action Plan at home?” Out of the class of 26 students that I was teaching yesterday, only six people raised their hands. I tell them if they love their family, go home, draw out the house and train them on where to go and what to do.
Yesterday I proceeded to show them pictures of what happened Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, at approximately 2:00 a.m. to my 88-year-old mom and my childhood home. I told them about the phone call that came around 2:10 a.m. from my Mom telling me her house was on fire. She was safe and uninjured at one of my brother’s homes. They are neighbors and can see each other across the pasture.
My mom was awakened by a loud sound and looked out her window to see a motorhome on fire—one that belonged to my sister and her husband. The fire investigator couldn’t rule out that it was the electric line above the motor-home or the inverter inside the motor home that started it, but we know for sure that it didn’t start inside her house.
One electric pole had the power boxes to shut off the electricity by the house. However, the other electric pole bringing the power lines to that pole didn’t have any place where we could shut it off. When the Baird Volunteer Fire Department responded, not only were they having to fight the fire from different angles, but there was a live electrical line on the ground arcing and popping. By this time, two of my brothers were there, along with one of my sisters and her husband. My mom was being brave as her 43-year-old home, as well as her antiques, treasures, family history journals, pictures, and personal belongings all burned in about a 1,400 to 1,500 degree fire.
I live 30 minutes away, and I got there about 2:50 a.m. The electricity was still not shut off. It was 4:30 before that happened. In the meantime, the house and belongings were a total loss. I was very thankful that my mom did as we have told her numerous times. She got out as fast as she could.
I am very sorry that my childhood home is gone and that my mom has lost all that she had collected through the years, but I’m so happy she was trained, prepared, and made it out safe without any injuries. We still have our memories and we did salvage some things for her. She had her purse, cell phone, and keys beside her on the bed like we had told her to do! I love it when people listen and do the right thing, instead of thinking it will never happen to them.
All six of my brothers, my two sisters, all of their families, and numerous friends worked through the Labor Day weekend to get everything cleaned up. My brother Dwight and I tore up the foundation on Monday, so we are now ready to rebuild her another house. It will be in the same place as her house before and her grandparents’ house before that. With a new Emergency Action Plan!!
Please take the time to drill your family and share your training with them. THINK, LOOK, ACT and go back home safe every day!
Darrel Canada is president and Master Trainer at Canada and Associates Safety Training LLC, based in Abilene, Texas, with offices also in Snyder, Midland, and Carrizo Springs, Texas. Find them at canada-associates.com.