What happens if something goes horribly wrong while you're at work? What would you do?
I've spent some time considering what to do if the SHTF when at home. Preps, plans, etc. Bug in, bug out.
However, I spend a lot of time at work (as I'm sure many others do as well). How will you be prepared or proceed if your work day is interrupted with a disaster? Do you stay put, head home, head to your kids (if they're at daycare, like mine)? With communications down, will you have some other way to communicate, stay out of communication, or plan a meeting location? If you have some preps, what are they - what will you need that you can carry?
For my section of the country, the most likely disaster scenario would be tornado, or some epic earthquake.
Tornado or earthquake strikes your locale
your car and/or your spouse's car is totally destroyed/out of commission
roads are impassable by vehicle anytime soon, until emergency crews arrive, or congested beyond capacity for the near future
Power is lost in the immediate area
No cell phone coverage due to downed towers/overloaded lines. No text messaging.
You are not injured severely, do not require medical assistance.
Interested to hear how people prepare while away from home, and work is likely the place you'll be if not at home.
I'm really fortunate enough that my work lies directly in between where my home is, and where my kids' daycare is, and that total distance is a little less than 8 miles. Relatively short commute distances. My wife also works less than a mile away.
Here is what I'd do:
Meet up with my wife at a prearranged location. We decide/agree on how to proceed - both head to the daycare to get the kids, or split up and one goes home and another goes to daycare and then home. If we wait a determined amount of time and the other doesn't show up, proceed to daycare and get to the kids, then head home if possible.
To get home, or to get to the kids, I have to cover 4 miles from work, so...I've trained myself to be able to jog for 4 miles without walking. This is just over a 5k distance, which is 3.1 miles. I would be dressed for work, jeans/nice shirt etc, but I could do it. That means reaching home or the kids within 35-45 minutes depending on the route I had to take. I have cheaper, but broken-in, running shoes at work for this. Also use them at work to take walks regularly.
I have a little elastic belt with a small pouch on it. Got it free at a work health fair. It seems to be decent quality. It can hold a little bit of stuff. I keep in it:
- a portable battery charger unit that can give me some extra juice on my phone.
- universal adapter for charger unit
- 2 energy or granola bars
- some money
If cell towers are down, why the charger? Well, I figure by heading miles away from where the disaster hit, it's possible that some power may still be on, and towers may still be working, or not as overloaded. If I can use my phone as a GPS, to find alternate routes and such, then I would. It makes sure my phone can remain powered a little longer than without a charger. I can take pictures, video, whatever I need to.
I also considered hydration. For work I always carry my backpack, and I can quickly empty that into my desk drawers. I'm planning on stashing some water bottles in my desk to then put in the backpack, if needed. I can rotate these regularly so they stay "fresh" and well sealed.
So, upon a disaster, my plan basically is:
Gather up meager/somewhat lightweight supplies
Meet up with my wife
Get to the kids
Total time to get to the kids and then walk home would be roughly 3 1/2 hours. That means if continued bad weather threatens, or nighttime will be a concern, that will impact our decision to split up or stay together, and whether we stay at the daycare or begin walking home.
We work nights. We make sure the older teens at home are ok and continue on with work. In the morning when we get home check the area for damage. First priority would be to check on the status of the kids. All other issues would have to wait. My job has a system in place to check on each other families that does not require a functioning telephone system.
Wife and I work in the same town within a few blocks of each other so if someones car is destroyed we give each other a ride. If the roads are truly impassable to get home just keep working until they are passable. I guess the overtime will be decent.
I would assume power is out if the roads were impassable. Doesn't really change much, both our work sites have back up generators. If I still wasn't home by morning I'd call/email the kids to make they hook up the generator in the morning to keep the fridge/ freezer from spoiling. They already know how to do this and I test them annually on it.
So small disaster plan is:
- Check on kids
- Keep working
- Go home when able
These days of dust
Which we've known
Will blow away with this new Son
But I'll kneel down wait for now
And I'll kneel down
Know my ground
I work about seven miles from home. My knees are bad and I walk with a cane. I keep some food at work for breakfast and lunch, but I'm not walking more than about two city blocks at a time. Luckily, I work for a transportation company. As long as there's electricity, we can talk to the drivers via two-way radio. With the food at work and the gear in my car, I can shelter in place long enough to get a ride home.
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So my situation is a little strange. I'm a Pipeline welder, and I'm on the road 90% of the year, I come home for holidays, and sometimes just need a few days off. Anyways, when on the road I live a max of 15 miles away from my fifth wheel.
Anyways, heres what I do...
I am usually only about 50 feet from my truck, where my get home bag is housed. It's comprehensive enough to handle 15 miles, and a possible over nighter. So my first thing is to grab my get home bag, and head off the beaten path.
As soon as I get to a new location to get a topographic map, and get it laminated, then it goes into the bag. Plus I like to drive around on the weekends, and I learn the areas pretty quick.
Once I get home I have preps, and the camper is completely self contained, as well having solar capabilites.
"If death causes you no pain when you're dead, it is foolish to allow the fear of it to cause you pain now"
If the power is off, then we HAVE TO evacuate the building. We have a tornado area inside but its not safe for long without the air circulation system on. To many open active chemicals in the building.
Since the car is toast then I make sure I grab my coat and lunchbox from my locker. Make doubly sure any gun that might be in the car is totaled also. Don't want some kid to find it.
I then have my EDC and that stuff in my lunchbox. A cell phone, back up battery, multi-tool, fire starters, pocket sized rain poncho and some snacks. If the weather is real bad I grab one of our industrial sized heavy duty garbage bags.
Sign out of work and walk a mile to my cousins house. Wait out things there. They have extra supplies.
If its a total Zombie cluster frack outside then I run to their house.
There are weapons at work, like yard tools and such. But it would have to be the walking undead before I thought about borrowing any of them.
Home is only 10 miles away and its an easy walk. Just a bit long.
I work at a refinery. There's a cat cracker outside my window. Supposedly the building is good for the overpressure, but in a major earthquake, all bets are off. God forbid I'm out in the plant during a major earthquake.
If I made it through, I'm assuming there'd be a bunch of disaster cleanup, if they said everyone go home, I'm about a two hour walk from home...
My current work location is hidden away in the middle of an industrial area so I should scout out any hazardous chemical sites and have a way to know wind direction. I have mapped out and walked major portions of the route home including railroad tracks, bike paths and where to cross the river if the bridges go down. My truck is always parked in the open so no worries of it getting crushed. Besides the get home bag I have a pair of hiking boots in the cargo area.
I work from home most of the time. Hopefully that is when the bad stuff happens, so the wife and toddler and I can just hunker down. If I'm at the office, its only about 12 miles, so I'd be able to make that with my EDC (which is pretty much the same stuff I carry for day hikes). If I'm able to grab my bag from the car, all the better. More water, food, tarp, etc for the walk home in case I need them. The wife works from home. When the kiddo is in day care, its only a couple blocks away. If I can get a text thru, I'd tell them to stay put and wait for me. The worst case scenario is I'm out of town for a work trip (go to the DC area about once a month). If that happens, the wife and kiddo are all set. I'd just have to figure out how to get home. I've hike that far before and could do it in a end of the world situation. But dont know if the family wants to hang out the house for a couple months waiting for me. Most likely I'd wait a couple days for things to settle down and hitch a ride, buy a new flight, bus ticket etc. I could walk or bike (rent one of the city bikes) and get out of the impacted area until I could find better transportation options. I do carry maps of the area with me when I travel.
Well I am a freight train conductor, and the area where I work doesn't have earthquakes, but if one did hit, I would likely die from whatever TIH/PIH hazard I am carrying in my cars.
Tornado's happen to our trains way more than anyone realizes, but more often than not usually just tips everything over on its side. If a tornado hit my train, and as long as the locomotive is still upright and functioning, with no rail damage, then I have the means to keep moving once I regain my air supply in the engine.
In the event of a tornado or earthquake if my train was upright I would immediately start looking out all windows to see if I have any "clouds/fire, etc" while getting on the radio and start broadcasting "EMERGENCY, EMERGENCY, EMERGENCY" to alert all other trains within range to stop because there is an issue ahead that is dangerous/potentially dangerous. I would then contact dispatch and advise them of the problem.
If I had visible "clouds/fire/anything that makes me uneasy" I would bail with my personal gear and paperwork, and run for at-least a 1/2 mile in the opposite direction the wind was blowing, to avoid breathing my last breath from something toxic. I would use my personal radio that we all carry to broadcast "EMERGENCY, EMERGENCY, EMERGENCY" to alert all other trains within range to stop because there is an issue ahead that is dangerous/potentially dangerous. I would then contact dispatch and advise them of the problem while looking at my paperwork to see if I had anything toxic on my train.
Unless this happened near my starting location, I could be anywhere from a few miles out of town to several hundred out of town and would likely not have to worry about my family, but I would contact them via cell phone if it worked and advise them to head out of town if possible to my folks house and I'd meet them when I could. 4 of my family members are also railroad workers so the whole family would know what happened even if I couldn't reach them, and they would act accordingly, which is to head to my parents house if something bad that required movement happened.
Then I would wait for my ride home, because I won't likely walking home from a train wreck caused by an earthquake or a tornado.
Here is an example of what happens when a freight train gets hit by a tornado. (These cars flip so easily because the cars are empty).
Here is an example of what happens when a freight train gets hit by a tornado.
Note to self: Freight trains make horrible tornado shelters and instead make huge potentially lethal flying objects.
Well the standard rule of thumb is that if we get a tornado alert over the radio we are to immediately stop all movement, the thought process behind this is that a moving train causes more damages if it derails that one sitting still. The reason is, we have some rail cars, Intermodal rail cars, for example, which are somewhere between 40-53 feet long and 20 feet high, or Auto Racks, which can be 145 feet long and 20 feet high, which are basically huge wind magnets riding on 2 inches of steel rail.
But in a locomotive that isn't moving, they are one of the best places to be in a train yard when a tornado hits. The newest models weight around 250 TONS per locomotive, and while the wind noise is horrible, they aren't going anywhere, the cars might roll over, but the engine won't move anywhere.
Our SOP while at work is if there is a tornado, get inside either the closest building or closest locomotive...
Here is what I mean when I talk about Intermodal rail cars being a huge wind magnet in high winds...
I am in an odd situation..I drive Truck for a living I am Home every day and slip seat a Tractor which means what I put in must come out. If it was an EMP or something that would tie up the Intertsates I am going to be walking
My wife and I work together, which is handy. Our baby is at a sitter we are good friends with, about 6 miles away. Earthquakes and Tornadoes pretty much won't happen here unless some apocalyptic world shattering mojo goes down. Pretty much a major widespread power outage is the only disaster that would cause widespread panic, aside from some sort of attack. Assuming we could get to our vehicle we'd take backroads to the baby, pick her up and head home and bug in.
If we weren't ahle to take a vehicle, we'd stock up on water (keep plenty at work), and hoof it to the sitters, and then try and find transport to our house.
"Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must." - Goethe
We just had a 7.0 earthquake about 10 (air) miles away. I think this fills scenario.
I happened to be at home. But after checking that the house was still weather tight (no broken windows etc) - I drove over to the DW workplace with extra batteries and a few flashlights.
The emergency lights failed to come on and the emergency genset failed to light off. No heat.
Within three hours - the electric was restored. Maintenance had arrived and reset the heat. The building had some some ceiling tiles and two fixtures fall out of frame. NO florescent lights fell from the fixtures as all of them were Sesmic Zone 5 rated and maintained.
At work - which is in a hardened data-center
The light went out, but the emergency lights worked.
The UPS carried everything until the genset autostarted.
As designed, the fire system alarmed and folks evacuation to the branch building across the parking lot, which had heat, running water and working toilets.
The mainframe never went off line, 'wired comms' Statewide stayed up, one of the "bargain basement' cell providers (GCI) cell system was off line for a couplle of hours.
Bottom line - a few book cases tipped over. Everyone was back to work the next day (weekend shift) - Monday was a regular workday.
This was because the organization spent the money to build to Zone Five standards and maintained the facilities the same way.
A lot of places in town cheaped out over the years, and paid a heavy price in flooding, loss of heat and so on.
We were lucky some might say... Lucky that the city builds to high standards, lucky the power system is redundant, lucky that people were, for the most part, prepared.
On the south of town, cut rate builders sold expensive homes that are now just wrecks.
We did our due diligence before buying, and so had only very minor building damage and only a couple of broken plates - that were out on the counter.... The minor damage was repaired by a plumber in 20 mins.
Had I been at work, I would have driven home, checked / patched as needed -- then to the wife's workplace. Since she works at a school - she cannot leave until all the kiddos are accounted for and sent home.
Well, if my car is out the picture, there is a pretty good chance I'm out of the picture, too.
I drive around all day for work, so my car is pretty much my office. My get home bag is designed for an overnight (or two) in my car, or a walk home from anywhere in the territory that I work, which is basically a 25 mile by 25 mile grid, with home in the middle.
I'm not concerned about getting myself home, but getting the kids is more of a challenge, because they are in two totally different directions depending on the day. They are either on right and center of said grid, or both on the right of the grid.
Luckily, my wife is in the middle of the grid, near one of the kids. Unluckily, I have no real way of communicating with my wife if the cell network goes down.
Writing that last sentence kind of makes the hair on my neck stand up.
So I guess my plan is to either get in my car and start driving towards the most distant child, or get on my boots and start walking toward the most distant child, and hope the cell network is intact.
For me not s big deal really. Assuming the walls don’t crush me, I’m about a 5-8 minute walk from my moms house. I’ve got everything I need in my car, so long as my car is intact as well.
Whether I have to walk or drive first stop moms. Get her truck, grab her food tubs, and her go bag, and the genny. Head to my place and get the guns, my food tubs, camping tubs, and grab the wool baskets, head to the property and wait things out.
Only issue we’ll have on the property is that the well got damaged. Even if that’s out between my water stores, moms water, and grand parents water we’re good.
The biggest issue is the gf. Her being a flight attendant if she’s on a flight or lay over they may end up diverting, the good news is that if she’s gone, the company puts her up in a hotel until they can find her transportation to the airport. If she’s home, then we’ve talked about If the house is safe stay there. If it’s not, leave a note and head to the property. But the communication aspect should be through through more. That’s the weak link.
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Short of my truck being destroyed by fire, I keep a GHB in the cab. My wife works not more than a mile from my work place. Inside my bag and also in her lunch bag are a pair of those cheap FRS radios. Use those to meet up with her and walk home. It's 13 miles from my work to home which is the reason for the GHB. With my bad legs what would be a few hours walk might be a overnighter for me depending on my legs condition on a particular day. Weapons, shelter , food and assorted survival tools , all ready for use. What could go wrong? It's Kansas, not like I'm going to have hike up a mountain
Since most of us are not working on the Pacific Coast Trail, you don’t need combat boots or hiking boots to get home, keeping a pair of trail runners or low-cut hiking shoes in your desk drawer or in your get home bag is both prudent and sufficient.
In addition to the supplies mentioned here if the situation allows I like to keep up bicycle at my worksite. Even a piece of crap Huffy from Craigslist greatly increases your mobility options.
When I worked at the State Department in DC I considered a Tyvek coverall and a disposable 3M HEPA respirator but never spent the money.
Last edited by Evan the Diplomat on Sun Dec 09, 2018 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Priests and cannibals, prehistoric animals
Everybody happy as the dead come home
Big black nemesis, parthenogenesis
No-one move a muscle as the dead come home
No earthquakes in my AO but otherwise given that fact set of damage I would opt to stay at my office. We do have redundant emergency power and comms.
The building has an above ground safe area for both tornadoes and hurricanes. There are rudimentary sleeping accommodations for the several people.
There is ample food and freshwater for a few days. The bathroom facilities include showers.
The problem would be securing and maintaining a secure perimeter. This is why I would remain on site with my employees/building staff. This has been addressed but never practiced. If there were looting/violence the ground floor would have to abandoned an elevators locked out and emergency exits secured from inside. That said we are not a visible target for the violent set and we avoided it during Katrina and recent incidents left us with only a damaged car abandoned on the barrier bollards and one broken glass door. There is a lot to be said for being a hard and boring structure.
If I had to walkout I am about 8 miles from home. So it is a long but not unreasonable walk. I have clothing and ppe in my office closet for this.
My wife and I have discussed similar scenarios. She would at her discretion remain at home and wait for me to contact her. If she got nervous she would proceed to the farm if possible. If not, there is redundant power at home and supplies for a reasonable period of time.
The biggest wild card in this scenario is that my office is in the CBD and during several recent seemingly minor events the local powers that be showed they learned nothing from the many mistakes of Katrina. The result was lots of unnecessary damage and "confusion". I suspect any such major event like this will be circus with the clowns running the show as ususal.
Since most of us are not working on the Pacific Coast Trail, keeping a pair of trail runners or low-cut hiking shoes in your desk drawer or in your get home bag is prudent. In addition to the supplies mentioned here if the situation allows I like to keep up bicycle at my worksite. Even a piece of crap Huffy from Craigslistgreatly increases your mobility options.
When I worked at the State Department in DC I considered a Tyvek coverall and a disposable 3M HEPA respirator but never spent the money.
The Tyvek coveralls are pretty inexpensive. Then again, I used to buy them by the gross for the family business. My dad and I kept a couple in each of our vehicles and they saved our butts a couple of times. Heading out somewhere and you're all dressed up but have car trouble? Take off the suit jacket and slip on the coveralls before changing the flat or crawling underneath to fix the muffler. The respirator too is fairly inexpensive, about $25. If you go that route though I suggest you buy extra filters and find room for at least one pair in your bag. Filters clog fast when there's a ton of crap in the air, such as dust and ash.