CONTACT Thinking about the unthinkable - TSS Safety

David Martin
TSS Safety Coordinator

Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend the National Safety Council Congress and Expo. Something I look forward to at this annual conference is the keynote speakers, who always have thought-provoking perspectives, no matter the topic.

One of the speakers this year, Jack Jackson from SafeStart and Zion Safety Consulting, led a talk titled “It can happen here” about workplace security. It was a great presentation and it got me thinking.

In many classes I teach or trainings that I conduct, I talk about situational awareness. We’ve all been guilty of not paying attention to our surroundings. But being aware of where you are – whether at work or at home – and what could happen, is the first step to being prepared. I’m not trying to encourage paranoia or be a downer, but when you go out for food, or shopping, or even to the movies, do you take a second to look around and see where the nearest exit is?

Preparedness can take many forms.  People, as a rule, are more prone to thinking, “It can’t happen to me” than “What would I do if?” Most people don’t believe they will be in a fire, be stranded when the car breaks down, get lost in the woods, be involved in a violent incident or a natural disaster.  But these things happen every day and can quickly become life-threatening if you aren’t aware of your options for helping yourself.

The importance of being prepared for what may happen can’t be understated. Some things that come to mind right off the bat include:

  • If you live in an area subject to extreme weather or wildfires, have a go-bag that you can grab. I highly recommend www.ready.gov as a great source of suggestions for what you should have in it.
  • Do you have a fire plan for your home?  Does everyone know it, and have you practiced it?   Do you know your company’s emergency plan? Check out the National Fire Protection Association website for guidance.
  • If you are traveling or boating or camping, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Make sure you have a first aid kit and basic emergency gear and supplies for your area. Check out our recent articles about first aid and wilderness safety kits.
  • Do you have a plan for connecting with family members if you are separated during an emergency? The Red Cross has helpful recommendations on how to get your family on the same page for an emergency.
  • Do you and your family have a code word that can be used during a conversation that indicates trouble? This is especially helpful for children, who may not know how to articulate that they feel like they are in danger.
  • Do you know if your company’s parking lot has well-lit areas where you can leave your vehicle if you know you are going to work late?
  • When you are shopping or out for entertainment, do you look for the emergency exits?

I encourage everyone to stop and think for a minute; what emergencies “could” happen and what would you do?  We don’t like to think about the unthinkable, but we need to be thinking about it, preparing for it, and hoping it never happens.