People always flock to government offices, even on ordinary days. Hence, workers in local and federal agencies are constantly exposed to a fast-paced environment with little room for mistakes. But while this everyday reality indicates efficiency, being too focused on serving the public can compromise one thing: safety.
With hundreds of people coming and going within a minute, government offices may harbor numerous safety risks. If a natural disaster or fire occurs, can they guarantee the safety of their employees and the public?
Considering that many government offices have dated designs and technologies, one may lose confidence when gauging their safety inside the place during a hurricane. For that reason, government offices should invest in these safety features and measures:
1. High-quality and Long-lasting Roof
The roof of every building suffers the brunt of the weather. Fortunately, most roofing materials are built to last and withstand the elements. However, government buildings are typically old, so their roofs must be due to a replacement.
The public sector should conduct several building inspections throughout the year to ensure the structural integrity of their building. Inspections around seasonal changes and after storms are the most crucial. Holes, tears, cracks, and bubbles on the roof should be repaired immediately. As government agencies are strict about building codes for homeowners and business owners, they should hold themselves to the same standards.
2. Emergency Response Plan
Government offices should develop an emergency response plan with the help of professional emergency responders. They should do it long before a disaster hits, not only after the forecast. The response plan should include where workers and civilians can exit. In addition, there should be measures to protect data, equipment, and inventory.
Training is necessary to accomplish a feasible emergency response plan. The government can’t simply copy a set of procedures from a disaster preparedness website. A proper plan results from thorough training, mainly because an employee will be assigned to lead evacuations. If the assigned employee didn’t undergo training, they might risk doing more harm than good during a real emergency.
Weatherstripping primarily increases energy efficiency. But it also works as a safety precaution against harsh weather. It’s also low cost, suiting the public sector.
There are different types of weatherstripping. One type that fits government offices is perimeter flashing. It’s the practice of installing metal strips around the roof edge, precisely at the point where the roof cover meets the wall. The metal strips protect the building’s interiors from leaks during heavy rain.
Another helpful type of weatherstripping is installing door sweeps. Door sweeps are either aluminum or stainless steel strips with a brush, sponge, felt, vinyl, or plastic running along the other side. It can block out drafts that enter through the bottom of a door.
Government offices may also consider a more advanced alternative, high-quality perimeter gasketing. Door gaskets don’t just block out drafts but also sound, light, and moisture. In addition, it can provide protection against fire and smoke. So, if the other room is burning, evacuees can leave the building with low risks of smoke inhalation. The door gaskets may also help slow down the spread of the fire.
4. An Emergency Kit
A catastrophic natural disaster can block roads, limiting access to essentials. But stranded government workers and civilians would need sustenance or medical attention. Hence, every government office should have an emergency kit.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends including the following items in an emergency kit:
- One gallon of water for each person per day (for drinking and sanitation)
- Non-perishable food good for at least three days
- Battery-powered radios
- Spare batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust masks (and surgical masks, considering we’re still battling a pandemic)
- Manual can opener for canned food
- Wrench or pliers for turning off utilities
- Local maps
- Cell phones with chargers and spare batteries
The kit should be stored in a sizable duffel bag or any lightweight container. Government offices should also spread the word about preparing an emergency kit in their localities. It would help civilians be more self-reliant after a disaster while the government gears up to help.
5. Backup Power Source
People count on the government the most during a natural disaster. Hence, they should prepare a backup power source for hurricanes, earthquakes, or fires. Standby generators are one example of a backup power source. They can supply energy to an entire building for several hours.
A backup power source is also crucial for maintaining data security. Government offices deal with many registration documents and other paperwork, which they cannot afford to lose.
The “government office of the future” is predicted to have a more streamlined and efficient design. But those qualities shouldn’t be limited to aesthetics alone. Efficiency should also mean better safety. For that reason, government offices should invest in effective safety measures before cosmetic renovations.