Whether you have 10 employees or 1,000, the recommendations can be scaled to your organization. Should a large earthquake occur in your area, it may prevent your employees from coming to work for days or even weeks. Your workforce is critical to sustaining your business. Even more daunting, the safety of your employees is greatly threatened due to nonstructural hazards such as falling objects and debris. While you cannot control or predict an earthquake, you can inform your staff about the simple steps they can take to mitigate hazards in their home. This fact sheet provides you with guidance on how to organize an employee awareness campaign on earthquake mitigation. Making your employees aware of their home hazards and how to "secure their stuff" may save their lives and ultimately your business, should an earthquake occur.
QuakeSmart employee awareness campaign held at ServiceMaster headquarters (Photo by Lindsey Athanitis, Outreach Process Partners).
1. Choose A Time for the Awareness Campaign
FEMA recommends a one-week campaign because earthquake mitigation is not a simple concept to understand and getting people to take action requires repetitive messaging to the audience. In fact, research shows that in order to change any habits of your audience, you must provide them with messaging multiple times. Repetition, effective frequency and a simple message influences the greatest behavioral changes. You may want to tie your campaign week around locally recognized events such as a historic earthquake anniversary, a State ShakeOut campaign and/or national events such as National Preparedness Month, Fire Safety Month or Building Safety Month.
Before you begin the campaign, contact and inform your local Emergency Manager about your events—he or she may offer you additional ideas or may want to participate. Visit the directory of State Offices and Agencies of Emergency Management.
The QuakeSmart Toolkit Poster can be a useful reminder for businesses looking to educate their employees about earthquake mitigation.
2. Begin the Campaign on a Monday
- Email or tell your employees that you are launching QuakeSmart Awareness Campaign that will give them the tools to Identify Their Risk, Make a Plan and Take Action (Template A).
- Post QuakeSmart posters, banners, table tents, bulletin board signs and other FEMA literature around common work areas (artwork available on FEMA.gov/QuakeSmart).
- On Monday, email your employees a "QuakeSmart Tip of the Day," which will inform them of mitigation activities they could do in their home.
- Upload the QuakeSmart videos to your company's website, or share the link to the QuakeSmart Toolkit.
The QuakeSmart Mitigation Training Video for Employees is one of three videos available in the QuakeSmart Business Toolkit.
3. Engage With Your Employees
- Survey Employees: Prior to the campaign, use an online survey tool to measure employee awareness about mitigation and ask what steps, if any, have they taken to reduce hazards in their home. After the campaign, survey them again and measure its effectiveness. Should the results be favorable, be sure to report this success back to your employees via email or company newsletter.
- Identify a QuakeSmart Team or Champion: Find one or more people who can act as "cheerleaders" for earthquake mitigation and encourage others. This might be a good opportunity to boost morale or put certain employees in the spotlight.
- Host a Lunch 'N Learn: Invite local authorities to speak about earthquake mitigation; present the QuakeSmart videos; purchase earthquake mitigation supplies and discuss them with your employees—raffle them off after the meeting; use FEMA's Earthquake Home Hazard Hunt Poster (FEMA 528) as a guide for discussion.
The Earthquake Home Hazard Hunt Poster (FEMA 528) provides visuals and descriptions so that homeowners can identify and fix at-risk areas of their homes to reduce future earthquake damage and disruption (Source: FEMA 528).
As part of your employee awareness campaign, you may want to offer employees a "Tip of the Day" or guidance for what they should be doing at home to ensure their safety from an earthquake event. After all, you would want to make sure that your employees are able to return to work after an earthquake event so you can stay in business and continue your essential functions. Below are some suggestions that you could help share with your employees:
- Move heavy items, such as pictures, mirrors or tall dressers, away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit.
- Secure tall furniture and bookcases with lag bolts to wall studs. Add lips to shelves to prevent costly items from sliding off their supports.
- Put latches on cabinet doors, especially in your kitchen.
- Fasten heavy or valuable items to shelves or tables.
- Secure file cabinets, computers, televisions and machinery that may move during an earthquake.
- Use easy museum/tack putty to secure fragile objects on tables and shelves.
- Store potentially hazardous materials such as cleaners, fertilizers, chemicals and petroleum products in appropriate containers and in sturdy cabinets fastened to the wall or floor.
- Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves and store breakable items in lower cabinets.
- Ask a carpenter or an electrician to determine whether light fixtures and modular ceiling systems are securely fastened.
- Be sure your water heater is fastened to the studs or masonry of the wall. If you use propane gas, be sure the storage tank is secured. Unsecured water heaters often fall over during earthquakes, which could rupture rigid water and gas connections as well as deplete a source of clean water.
- Fasten heavy objects to the building structure.
- Make sure all gas heaters and appliances are connected to the gas pipe through flexible tubing.
- Relocate objects to avoid blocking exits.
- Secure your wood stove to wall or floor studs. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher close at hand.
Computers can easily be secured to prevent any damage or injury in the event of an earthquake (Image courtesy of the Institute for Business and Home Safety).
Use easy museum/tack putty to secure fragile objects on tables and shelves (Photo by Lindsey Athanitis, Outreach Process Partners).
Securing water heaters is a easy-to-do yet essential step to mitigating your earthquake risks (Illustration by Mike Griffin).
Other potential hazards around the home could include bookshelves, windows, lights, dishes, breakables, paintings, tabletop items, file cabinets and ventilation ducts. For securing a wide range of objects, most local hardware stores carry a wide range of straps, latches, brackets, bracing kits, Velcro™ products, earthquake wax, earthquake putty, wire and bolts. In some cases, objects could be replaced with a more secure or safer substitute, reducing or eliminating a hazard all together. For example, new light fixtures might be considered in place of securing old heavier ones.
- Host an Information Fair: If you are a small business, team up with neighboring businesses or your Chamber of Commerce to have an information fair on earthquake mitigation. If you are a large business, consider inviting outside organizations to showcase information on mitigation and preparedness such as the American Red Cross, local police and fire departments, mitigation supply companies, hospitals, etc.
- Create a Contest: Once employees are aware of earthquake mitigation, create a contest where employees can take QuakeSmart action at home. Have them take pictures of their efforts and share them with your QuakeSmart Champion. The employee with the most efforts could be given non-financial incentives such as certificates of achievements, public recognition or an award for outstanding QuakeSmart achievement. These pictures could be shared on your company website, newsletter, emailed to clients or stakeholders and shared with local media.
- Review and Reward Progress: Following the campaign, consider quarterly reminders or having your QuakeSmart Champion follow-up with employees about their mitigation efforts. Consistency and repetition will encourage continued action.
- Make it a Tradition: Use the results of the campaign to revise it for the following year. Consider the following questions for a follow-up campaign - What communication tools worked well? How can you keep the message fresh? Are there new avenues to QuakeSmart? Have your Champion check FEMA.gov/QuakeSmart for updated materials.
Presentations of earthquake risk information can be made more effective through the use of maps and other visual aids designed to address the specific needs and interests of individual decision-makers (Source: FEMA 479).
It may be helpful to arrange formal meetings with your experts to ensure that their knowledge, communications skills and enthusiasm are adequate to help you obtain the support of key professional groups (Source: FEMA 479).
4. Alert the Media
Informing the media about your awareness campaign can boost your business' reputation as well as encourage the rest of community to take QuakeSmart action. If you host an information fair, consider inviting a local TV, radio, or newspaper reporters to cover the event. Use Template B as a guide for press release format.
Take Action Template B: Sample Press Release to Local Media is available in the QuakeSmart Toolkit for businesses to modify and distribute their own press releases.
5. Utilize Social Media Outlets
If your company uses Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media to communicate, showcasing your QuakeSmart campaign can deliver fresh and interesting content. Provide continual updates highlighting any of the actions mentioned above in Section 3. Recognize an employee or even provide updates about your company's mitigation efforts. Perhaps assign the social media role to your QuakeSmart Champion during the week-long campaign.