What Should Your Office “Go Bag” Contain for Emergencies?

Picture of Tara Gibson By Tara Gibson

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office emergency kitThe recommended contents of an office go bag can vary according to the location of your workplace, how you commute to work, and the distance between your workplace and your home. The nature of the contents can also be influenced by your safety role in the business or in the community.

According to the Department of Homeland Security's “Ready” campaign, you should keep “go bags” (also known as “grab bags”, “bug out bags”, or “survival kits”) in your home, in your car, and in your workplace because you never know where you will be when an emergency occurs. The Department's “Build a Kit” web page provides valuable information about what a basic go bag should consist of, plus lists additional supplies to consider if you have pets, children, or elderly family members.

Unfortunately, it is not practical to keep every recommended item in an office go bag. Not only might the bulk of so many items hinder your escape in a mass workplace evacuation (especially if colleagues are trying to evacuate with their own bulky go bags), it may also be difficult to store a number of large go bags in an office environment. Consequently, we have compiled a list of considerations to take into account when putting together a personal go bag for your workplace.

What Emergencies are You Preparing For?

Different parts of the country experience different types of emergencies. With regards to severe weather emergencies, the charity ICNA Relief has created a map (below) dividing the country into ten geographical areas according to the type of natural disaster each location is most susceptible to. With regards to man-made disasters, you should assess what threats might affect your workplace (i.e. environmental threats, criminal threats, infrastructure threats, etc.) and plan accordingly.

map

How you commute to work and the distance between your workplace and your home will also affect what items go into your office go bag. If you drive to the office, and your car is parked a few paces outside the office building, you can place more items into your car go bag and fewer into your office go bag - taking into account a “stay-in-place” order during an environmental disaster or long-term hostage situation that might not be resolved within twenty-four hours.

Even if you commute to work using public transport, it may be possible to put fewer items in your office go bag if your home go bag is less than one hour's walk away. In this case, comfortable walking shoes may be essential, as might be a map and compass if you are unfamiliar with the route. It may not be possible to rely on your smartphone's mapping system if there is a widespread power outage, but uploading a torch app onto your smartphone will save you packing a torch in your go bag. 

Why Your Safety Role May Make a Difference

If you have been assigned the role of a workplace safety officer or are a member of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), the contents of your office go bag might be a lot different from those of your colleagues. Depending on your business's emergency preparedness plan, you may have the responsibility for organizing emergency response, ensuring the wellbeing of colleagues, liaising with emergency responders, and communicating with state and local public health departments.

Related Blog: Keeping Employees Safe During National Preparedness Month and  Beyond

In this scenario, it is recommended to have more than a basic smartphone in your office go bag. You will likely need something more advanced (i.e. a latest generation tablet or iPad) plus a spare power supply or a solar-powered charger with a high Wh output. Spare power supplies and solar chargers are not particularly expensive, but they will take up space in your go bag which might mean sacrificing other items. It is not advisable to keep important communication tools in your car.

If you are a member of a CERT team, your go bag will be more geared towards helping others than self-survival. Depending on the requirements of your local team organizer, it may be necessary to pack a reflective vest, hard hat, heavy duty gloves, safety googles, and a fully-equipped trauma kit (rather than a first aid kit). Again, communication plays a big part in community disaster response, so it is recommended your pack also includes a quality mobile device and a back-up power source.

Good Communication Can Improve the Chances of Surviving an Emergency

In all types of emergency events, timely warnings and access to information can increase survival rates. For this reason many organizations use business emergency communication solutions to reach, engage, and protect employees when seconds count. As well as being a reliable mass notification tools, our solutions can improve situational awareness for incident managers in order that resources are prioritized for where they are most needed and where they will be most effective.

To find out more, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team of safety experts will be happy to answer your questions and organize a demonstration of our business emergency communication solutions in action. The opportunity also exists for your business to take a free trial of our solutions to evaluate them in your own environment. To find out more, and to arrange your initial demonstration, contact us today.

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Written by Tara Gibson

Tara is a Marketing Coordinator on the Rave Mobile Safety marketing team. She loves writing about all things K-12 education, and manages the Rave social media channels. When she's not working, she's taking care of her smiley, shoe eating, Instagram-famous fur baby, Enzo!

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