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How to Prepare for an Emergency Lockdown in Your Building

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All businesses and public buildings have lockdown plans and procedures. Protocols are customizable and can vary, including specific actions plans, designated areas and facilities, and equipment to keep the building secure. The central goal, though, will always be the same: keeping everyone safe. Here are a few tips on what to expect and how to be prepared in case a lockdown happens in your building.




When employees and other people in the building are asked not to leave because of a real or perceived threat, a lockdown procedure will ensue. It is the opposite of an evacuation plan, so different protocols and locations are provided. Employees will need to know how to lock windows and doors, and the safest places to take cover if necessary. In some cases, people will be asked to gather in a designated accessible area, like a break room or lobby, so a head count can be taken.


  • Action Plans will give employees in command a checklist of responses for situations. The plan will include contact information for employees and emergency contacts for gas, water, and electric companies. Regardless of what plan is enacted, checklists for fires, bomb threats, and medical emergencies should always be readily available.


  • Meetings and drills in the workplace will usually be held quarterly to get all employees up to speed. Employees should be trained on locations of alarms, safety areas, and disaster preparedness.


  • Building security can include a range of options and is customizable. Alarm systems, extra lighting, and securable doors are important basics. Businesses should also have surveillance cameras, access control systems (like card or fingerprint readers), and data security systems. These options have varying degrees of security. For example, some businesses may want to install card readers for employee restricted areas, while more high-profile businesses may elect to install biometric systems that read the iris or fingerprints of employees, greatly restricting access.




Now that all the basic prerequisites are covered, let's see how you can be prepared for a lockdown and what steps should be taken:


  • Familiarize yourself with what different emergency codes and alarms mean as outlined in employee handbooks. Medical industry businesses will often have code definitions on employee ID cards.


  • Secure doors and windows in all rooms. Lower the blinds or close curtains. If you are not in a securable room, get to one immediately.


  • Stay clear of outside doors and DO NOT let anyone in the building.


  • Barricade the room if possible.


  • Find a sheltered area in the room, whether it is a closet, cabinet, or under a desk.


  • Pre-designated employees will contact emergency services.


  • Stay quiet and turn off your cell phone.


In a lockdown, the main priority is safety. Shelter plans and partial lockdowns are used to protect people inside the building from outside threats or to section off a particular area. A full lockdown is a serious protocol and means there is a real and dangerous threat. If you are ever in a lockdown, the most important thing you can do is stay hidden and calm.


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