Blog – Disaster Preparedness

Furniture store explosion rocks neighborhood

A disaster no business owner wants to face: an explosion in the building, being critically injured and two trapped employees. This event happened today at a furniture store in Wayne, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. As of 2 p.m. (PST), two trapped employees were still missing. Rescuers are fearful of secondary explosions and the presence of flammable materials.

The blast happened around 9 a.m. local time; residents as far as a mile away felt the blast. Consequently, police evacuated area residents from their homes and businesses. Experts believe the explosion was caused by a natural gas leak because a furniture store employee called the gas company to report a gas leak in the building. The explosion happened as a store employee attempted to seal the leak.

What to Do When You if You Suspect a Gas Leak

When you detect the smell of natural gas in your home or place of work, immediately:

  • Ventilate the building by opening doors and windows.
  • Do not turn on or use any electrical devices, or light a match, while inside the affected building.
  • Evacuate everyone inside the building to a location outside that is a safe distance away.
  • Turn off the gas valve, which you can find by the gas meter on the gas inlet pipe. Use an adjustable wrench to turn the valve so the oblong stem is at a 90-degree angle to the inlet pipe.
  • Call the gas company from a nearby location or with a cell phone (once you are outside the building). If you do not know the number for the gas company, call 9-1-1.

Creating a Disaster Plan

No business owner wants to imagine his building exploding, but it is a necessary task if the use of natural gas is employed. All business owners should create a disaster emergency plan that includes planning to keep a wrench by the gas valve permanently, to never leave flammable or combustible materials inside the building and to create a business continuity plan. A business continuity plan outlines how operations will continue after a disaster. For example, it will list remote locations from which to work, a plan to restore damaged documents found in the aftermath and the contact information of those who can help with this process.

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