Prepare your emergency action plan

  • Published
  • By Richard Fleming
  • AEDC Safety

Do you have an emergency plan? What will you, your coworkers or family do in case of an emergency fire, tornado, active shooter or other emergency scenario? Planning will help you each to know how to be prepared, stay safe and contact each other in case of an emergency.

While at Work

In case of fire –

  • Alert all personnel by pulling the alarm or warning others.
  • Remain calm.
  • Notify the fire department by dialing 911 and providing:
  • Location (building number, shop, area, etc.)
  • Type of fire (what is burning)
  • Whether all personnel have been evacuated
  • Unless the emergency circumstances dictate, do not hang up until told to do so.
  • Appoint someone to meet the fire department on location to provide information about the fire, type of fire and occupant status.
  • If the fire is small and you have been trained, grab a fire extinguisher and P.A.S.S:
  • Pull the pin.
  • Aim at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the handle.
  • Sweep from side to side.
  • Exit the building, go to your assembly point and check in. Stay out until the “all clear” is given.

In case of tornado – Go to your building’s safe place, hunker down and wait for the “all clear” signal.

In case of an active shooter – If an active shooter is in your vicinity, you must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with the situation.

1. RUN

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Call 911 when you are safe.


  • Hide in an area out of the shooter’s view.
  • Lock the door or block entry to your hiding place.
  • Silence your cell phone.


  • Fight as a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger.
  • Attempt to incapacitate the shooter with as much physical aggression as possible.
  • Improvise weapons or throw items at the shooter.
  • Commit to your actions . . . your life depends on it.

Information to provide to 911 operations:

  • Location of the shooters.
  • Number of shooters.
  • Physical description of the shooters.
  • Number and type of weapons.
  • Number of potential victims at location.

When law enforcement arrives:

  • Remain calm and follow instructions.
  • Drop items in your hands (e.g., phones, bags, jackets)
  • Raise hands and spread fingers.
  • Avoid quick movements toward officers.
  • Avoid pointing, screaming or yelling.

The first officers to arrive on scene will not stop to help the injured. Expect rescue teams to follow behind the initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove the injured.

Once you have reached a safe location, you will likely be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Do not leave the area until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.

While at Home

In case of fire – It is just as important to have a plan at home as it is at work.

  • Install fire alarms and hold fire drills. When you have children make it into a game – keep it light. Be sure they know where they need to go and where to meet.
  • Once out, stay out. Many people get hurt going back in to get someone that is already outside.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, the number of reported home fires has continued to decline over the past decades. However, when home fires do happen, they are more likely to result in injuries and deaths.

Today’s home fires burn faster due to materials used, more open spaces and synthetic fibers that generate toxic smoke and gases that quickly make it hard to see and breath.

Your ability to escape a home fire may depend on early warning from smoke alarms and advanced planning.

NFPA Fire Escape Planning Tips

  • Pull together your household and take the time to make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes marking two ways out of each room— including windows and doors.
  • When you walk through your plan, check to make sure the escape routes are clear, and doors and windows can be opened easily.
  • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.
  • Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. 
  • Choose an outside meeting place (i.e. neighbor's house, a light post, mailbox or stop sign) a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they've escaped. 
  • Go outside to see if your street number is clearly visible from the road.
  • If there are infants, older adults or family members with mobility limitations, make sure that someone is assigned to assist them in the fire drill and in the event of an emergency.
  • If windows or doors in your home have security bars, make sure that the bars have emergency release devices inside so that they can be opened immediately.
  • Tell guests or visitors to your home about your family's fire escape plan.
  • Be fully prepared for a real fire. When a smoke alarm sounds, get out immediately.
  • Once you're out, stay out! Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. If someone is missing, inform the fire department dispatcher when you call. Firefighters have the skills and equipment to perform rescues.

In case of tornado – The Federal Emergency Management Agency tells us if you are under a tornado warning, find safe shelter right away. Go to a safe room, basement or storm cellar. If there is no basement, get to a small, interior room on the lowest level. Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. If you can safely get to a sturdy building, do so immediately. Do not get under an overpass or bridge.

In case of cell phone trouble during emergencies - What will you do if cell phone service is interrupted or completely out? What if electricity is lost for a while and your battery dies? Even if a land phone is available, do you have anybody’s phone number memorized or written down?

Make a list of important phone numbers including utilities. You should include at least one number that is outside of your area for everyone in your circle to use as an emergency contact.

Several centuries ago, Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Take the time to make an emergency action plan for each part of your life so that when an emergency happens you will not be caught off guard.

Take care of each other.