While few of us would relish the thought of having to spend a single minute more than absolutely necessary at work, it is conceivable you could end up stranded there overnight. If severe weather rolls in, such as a major blizzard, travel could be treacherous at best. Rather than roll the dice and take your chances on hazardous roads, you may be better off just hunkering down at your desk. By planning ahead and assembling a workplace emergency kit, you can turn such an event into nothing more than an inconvenience.
If you work from home or stay at home during the day, consider putting together one of these kits for a spouse or other loved one who does have to go to work each day.
Start with a bit of food, such as granola bars, crackers, or perhaps one of my favorites, honey roasted cashews. Sure, many of us routinely have some snacks stashed away in our desk but it is never a bad idea to have some extra goodies in your workplace emergency kit. Check out this list of handy no-cook foods for some suggestions. One popular emergency food among preppers is the high-calorie emergency bar. These are used by the military and are actually quite tasty.
Don’t forget a couple of bottles of water, too. We have no way to reliably predict what the situation might be and the disaster you end up facing could result in water not flowing from the bathroom taps. In that case, you might have to get water elsewhere, and it might be questionable as to its safety. A LifeStraw comes in handy for that and since it’s low-cost and very lightweight, you could easily keep it stored in a desk drawer. The Sawyer Water Filtration System is also portable and very popular.
If the power remains functioning, you might want to hit up the vending machines so toss some cash and coins in your kit. Just a few bucks will probably be enough. Make sure the bills aren’t too wrinkled to be recognized by the machine!
A good flashlight with extra batteries (or perhaps a dynamo powered flashlight, where turning a crank provides the power) will make you a hero at work, should the power go out. Many of us work in office buildings where the bulk of the workspace has no exterior windows. If all the lights go out, it gets mighty dark in there. Do you really want to take a trip to the bathroom using the Braille method? If your flashlight uses batteries, store an extra set or two nearby.
A few hygiene items can help greatly with morale. These include a toothbrush, toothpaste, a small bar of soap, and a hand towel. If nothing else, having these things in your kit will help prevent people standing further and further away from you during conversations. Another thing to keep in your kit is your preferred feminine hygiene supplies. I realize most women carry a stash in their purse already but redundancy is always a good idea.
If your job requires you to wear business attire or, conversely, you end up dirty and sweaty from working in a factory, a change of clothes would be nice to have on hand. Comfortable jeans, perhaps, and an old flannel shirt, as well as thick socks and sneakers. The idea is to have clothes you won’t mind staying in for hours on end, rather than spending the night in a skirt or dress slacks. A hooded sweatshirt might also be desirable.
It’s possible that you might have to do some walking to get home or to another shelter. Sturdy, warm, waterproof shoes with wool socks are an absolute must. Shoe Goo can be used to create a waterproof barrier if need be.
Many workplaces have first aid kits in the break room or perhaps the Human Resources office. Often, though, these are poorly equipped and rarely maintained. Either buy a small first aid kit or assemble one with supplies you have at home. Adhesive bandages, pain relievers, and meds for stomach ailments should all be included. If you regularly take any sort of prescription medication, keep in your kit enough to last a day or two at least. This article, while meant for kids’ first aid kits, has some excellent suggestions.
Of course, many of us are guilty of catching a cat nap here and there while we’re at work. But, given that you may end up spending a full night at the office, a small blanket and inflatable pillow will probably be welcome. Emergency blankets are all well and good but honestly, they aren’t all that cozy when you are just looking to snooze for a bit. A couple of yards of fleece fabric makes a warm, frugal blanket, although on a chilly winter night, you’ll need something more.
Finally, count on the fact that you’ll probably get bored after a while. You work with the people around you every single day, you’ve already heard all of their stories and you likely don’t want to listen to them again. Something to help pass the time will be of great benefit. A book to read, maybe crossword puzzles or word search puzzles, if that’s your thing. A deck of cards could be fun, whether you play poker or solitaire (you do know you can play solitaire without a computer, right?). I would refrain, though, from chewing up your flashlight’s battery to engage in these activities. If an office has a window, and thus light coming in, great. Otherwise, save your flashlight for when you truly need it.
Your workplace emergency kit will likely fit into a small duffel bag, which can be stashed under your desk or in your locker. While most of us have our bug out bags or get home bags in our vehicles, having this separate kit at your workplace will prevent you from having to leave the building at all until it is safe to do so.
If you are a business owner, I would encourage you to give serious thought to ways you can be prepared to assist your most valuable assets–your employees–in the event of a disaster hitting during working hours. Visit Disaster Prep Consultants to learn how they can help you with your disaster planning.