Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Be Red Cross Ready - The Office Edition

National Preparedness Month is just around the corner, so there is no better time to get yourself and your family prepared for the next disaster or emergency that could happen here in the Central Valley. Per usual, a scene from The Office pops into my head when I think of being prepared. In this particular episode, titled Stress Relief (s5, e13) Dwight Shrute believes that his coworkers are totally unprepared for a fire in the office. Turns out, they are. His fire safety seminar didn’t get through to them, which he thinks is because he used PowerPoint, “PowerPoint is boring.” So he comes up with the idea to simulate an ACTUAL fire so that they can see just how unprepared they really are, “People learn in lots of different ways, but experience is the best teacher” (Note, I do NOT condone this).

He starts a fire in a trash can, and waits for the office to break into complete chaos. As they run amuck, he shouts instructions on what to do. To make a long story short, all of the employees are very angry with Dwight when he interrupts the chaos to tell them “Fire is not real, this is merely a training exercise,” but in the end they got the point. They were not prepared at all for an emergency.

If only the office workers had been aware of the three principles of preparedness: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed, their fire situation would have been a lot less stressful.


“Know what emergencies or disasters are most likely to occur in your community”
The Office workers were not informed at all when it came to knowing what emergency or disaster would most likely happen to them. Although they live in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where they aren’t as prone to earthquakes or wildfires, house fires (or workplace fires in this case) are still the most common emergencies, and can happen at any time.

“You should have a family disaster plan and have practiced it”
The Office workers had no disaster plan what-so-ever. They didn’t discuss two places to meet after a fire, none of them had an out-of-area phone contact, and they didn’t have any escape routes out of the office. If they had drawn out an emergency plan together, and practiced their escape routes twice a year, their experience with a fire would have been less stressful.

“Have an emergency preparedness kit”
None of the office workers had an emergency kit (besides Dwight who keeps his hidden in a desk drawer). A proper emergency kit needs to have the following items: water, non-perishable food items (don’t forget the can opener), medications, extra clothing, a whistle, a flashlight with extra batteries, a radio, personal hygiene items, a blanket, important documents, and possibly a comfort item. Don’t forget about your pets! You can include pet food, a leash, and a toy in your kit as well.

“Be trained in first aid and CPR/AED”
None of the office workers were trained properly in first aid or CPR/AED. In fact, after the debacle with Dwight starting a fire, boss Michael Scott schedules a CPR training course, starring the American Red Cross! Having someone in your family trained in first aid and CPR/AED can be crucial if someone were to be injured or lose consciousness during a disaster or emergency. 

“Take action to help the community prepare”
Now that everyone who works in The Office knows what it’s like to experience a fire when you’re not prepared, they should do everything they can to be sure that they will be prepared if it ever happens again. They should also encourage the rest of the community to Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed.

Samantha Minks
AmeriCorps NPRC/Preparedness Coordinator

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