How to Prepare Your Company and Employees for an Earthquake

On July 5th 2019, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Southern California, forcing many businesses to shut their doors. In its wake, journalists Tim Arango and Thomas Fuller reported that the “Dodger Stadium swayed. Rides at Disneyland were evacuated, and so were movie theaters in Los Angeles. Near Palm Springs, pools sloshed and chandeliers at a casino rocked. And in the Mojave Desert town of Ridgecrest, Calif., fires roared, power went out and grocery store shelves came crashing down.”

With reports of aftershocks for months to come or even potentially larger earthquakes, the financial damage from the quake, as well as the physical injuries, has everyone, including business owners, wondering what, if anything, they can do to prepare.

To protect your company and employees, you need to understand how you can start preparing for the next major earthquake today. Keep reading to discover information that can help you prevent or mitigate the damage that comes in the wake of an earthquake.

How to Prepare Your Company and Employees for an Earthquake 

Earthquakes--no-notice events that can’t be predicted--have devastating effects on companies and their employees. You can reduce the impact of an earthquake by making sure your company has an emergency plan, checking for hazards in your workplace, conducting regular earthquake drills, and having a disaster supply kit on hand. 

Establish an Emergency Plan with Key Stakeholders

You and the key stakeholders in your company should establish an emergency plan ahead of time. Your employees will thank you in the event of a natural disaster because a strong plan will ensure their safety.

Make sure that your company’s plan includes the following: 

  • Designated emergency area: You should establish an emergency area outside of the workplace when you evacuate the building after an earthquake. The area should preferably be in an open space away from other buildings or power lines. Communicate where the designated emergency area is to all of your employees. 

  • Procedure to account for employees: Depending on the size of your company, designate one or more people to conduct roll call for employees after evacuation. 

  • Roles & Responsibilities: Get your employees involved in the process by assigning teams to handle basic first aid, search and rescue, fire response, evacuation, damage assessment, and security. 

Check for Possible Hazards in the Workplace

An earthquake can strike at any time, leaving you scrambling to get to safety. But you can reduce the risk of injury or death to your employees simply by identifying and minimizing common hazards beforehand.

To reduce hazards in the workplace, do the following: 

  • Fasten all shelves, shelving units, and filing cabinets securely to walls

  • Identify all heavy objects on shelving units and place those on or near the ground

  • Place all breakable items, including hanging plants, anything glass, and any art fixtures on or near the ground

  • Secure all computers, televisions, printers, and additional equipment to the ground or their respective stands 

  • For all heavy items like mirrors, photographs, and paintings, make sure that they’re securely fastened and, whenever possible, hang those items away from where people sit 

  • Securely brace all overhead light fixtures and any air conditioning units

  • Make sure that there are no electrical, gas, or structural defects in your workplace

Conduct Earthquake Drills

One of the best ways to make sure your employees stay safe during an earthquake is by practicing what to do in the event one happens.

To run an effective earthquake drill, follow these six components: 

  • Alarm: Start the drill by sounding an alarm. The alarm should be a pre-arranged signal, such as a bell or buzzer, that alerts everyone is aware of. 

  • Response: During the response phase, everyone should take cover just as they would in the event of a real earthquake. People should strive to get under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture, and move away from windows, glass, and light fixtures. When no sturdy furniture is available, people should crouch and cover their head with their arms. 

  • Evacuation: Evacuation should take place after people have sought cover. Before running the drill, make sure that your employees are aware of predetermined safe routes and where to gather outside. 

  • Assembly: Once exiting the building, employees should group by department or floor, whichever is easiest to conduct roll call. Make sure that employees know where to assemble prior to running the drill. 

  • Roll Call: During roll call, have pre-assigned people account for all employees.

  • Evaluation: When the drill is done, make sure key stakeholders evaluate any problem areas in your earthquake procedure. 

Have Disaster Supply Kits on Hand

You can also help mitigate injuries in the aftermath of an earthquake by having a disaster supply kit on hand for your employees to use. After an earthquake, you may have limited access to food, water, and critical information.

You’ll want the disaster supply kit at your office to have, at a minimum, the following: 

  • Water
  • A battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Local maps marked for the nearest hospital and police station
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers

For your company to be able to use the kit in the event an earthquake hits, be sure to store it in a safe place that’s easily accessible during an emergency. Make sure that key personnel have access to, and know where, to locate the kit. 

Mitigate the Financial Costs of an Earthquake with Insurance

You can help protect your business even further by purchasing insurance specifically for damage caused by earthquakes. You can purchase earthquake insurance through an earthquake endorsement, which is an add-on to the standard Business Owner’s Policy, or as a separate policy.

Understanding When You Can Buy Earthquake Insurance: Moratorium Periods

Immediately after an earthquake hits, insurance companies typically stop selling earthquake insurance. This period where they refuse to sell earthquake insurance--known as a moratorium--can last up to three months. When and for how long an insurance company will refuse to sell is specific to the insurer. What this means for you is that you should get earthquake insurance immediately once a moratorium period ends so that you can make sure you’re ready for the next time.

Leap | Carpenter | Kemps Insurance Agency Can Help Your Company if an Earthquake Strikes

Leap | Carpenter | Kemps Insurance Agency has years of experience helping clients prepare for and handle the aftermath of natural disasters, including earthquakes. We can help you understand and make sure that you have the right insurance for your company to survive--and even thrive--in the wake of an earthquake.

Contact us today to see what we can do for you.