Editorial: Have a plan ready for the unexpectedPublished 9:48am Tuesday, January 14, 2014
The dangers posed by the Dec. 30 train derailments and explosions near Casselton, N.D., certainly is catching the attention of emergency responders, the rail and energy industries, and environmental interests.
But there’s one segment of the population that seems to be overlooking some valuable lessons from this crash. Who? The general public.
Don’t think so? Then imagine this scenario: It’s 1:30 p.m. on a weekday afternoon. Suddenly what happened outside Casselton happens on the rail line in your town. As spilled oil continues to burn, authorities order you to immediately evacuate the city.
What do you do? Where do you go?
If you’re at work, do you go home first? How can you get there, though, if the rail line is in the way? What about your family at home? Or what if your spouse is working across town? What about your kids who are still in school?
If you’re the leader of your business, do you have an evacuation plan? Do employees know what to do? If the disaster directly affects your facility, do you have emergency procedures in place? Have employees been trained on them?
And, oh by the way, it is mid-January, which presents another whole set of challenges.
The point here isn’t to scare people into panic mode. Rather, it’s just the opposite. Residents should have at least a basic knowledge of what to do if an emergency evacuation is declared in their community.
Do you have that knowledge? Do your spouse and kids? Your employees?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is a good starting point for that information. Visit www.ready.gov/evacuating-yourself-and-your-family for basic information for families.
Employers can check FEMA, too. But another potential source is “How to Plan for Workplace Emergencies and Evacuations,” from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It’s available here: www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3088.pdf.
Of course, advice from local experts is also important, which is why we are inviting area emergency preparedness planners to share their top tips on emergency evacuations in the form of Your Turn commentaries. Those will be shared on these pages in the coming weeks.
Knowing how prominent rail traffic is in Central Minnesota, the general population needs to join the experts in trying to learn from what happened near Casselton, N.D.
— St. Cloud Times, Jan. 8