Preparing and Planning for Emergencies

It is important to have an emergency response plan in place and to train your market staff and volunteers in that plan.

In the design of your farmers’ market you planned for emergency access by the fire department, ambulance, or other first responder. As you operate your farmers’ market it is important to maintain this emergency access. It can be tempting to fill the empty space with market activity, a musician, or a table and chairs for customers to sit but a best practice is to not put anything into that space that can’t be removed in under a minute or that can’t be run over by an emergency response vehicle: a sandwich board sign could be OK but a pop-up tent or table and chairs would be an impediment.

In addition, it is important to have an emergency response plan in place and to train your market staff and volunteers in that plan.

  • Talk to your local police and fire departments to learn if there are local emergency response telephone numbers that can supplement the 911 emergency response system. Depending upon your local system, a call to 911 from a cell phone may not give the 911 operator information on your location or may be routed to a regional call center.
  • Be sure that all of your on-site staff and volunteers have 911 and any supplemental emergency numbers programmed into their cell phones.
  • Think about how to direct emergency responders to the farmers’ market. If your market is in a parking lot, giving the main street address may not get them to where they are needed as quickly as giving a description of where the parking lot entrance is located.
  • Invite staff from your local fire station to visit the farmers’ market as shoppers (perhaps by providing coupons or other vouchers to help underwrite the cost of their purchases) so they can see the farmers’ market layout and are familiar with it in case they need to return in an emergency.
  • Consider providing CPR and first aid training for staff and volunteers at no cost to them.
  • Have a first aid kit available and visible in the farmers’ market.
  • Have a fire extinguisher available and visible in the farmers’ market. Remember that certain types of cooking in your farmers’ market, such as deep frying or wood grilling, require different types of extinguishers in case of fire. You should require the vendors who are cooking to provide the appropriate type of fire extinguisher and post the fire extinguisher prominently so your staff or volunteer can access them if needed.

A Guide to Opening Small Farmers' Markets in San Jose, California