Emergency plans

Evacuation in emergencies

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At this point in our world, it can be assumed that nearly everyone has heard of the term "evacuate" or "evacuation". Merriam-Webster's defines evacuation as "to withdraw from a place in an organized way especially for protection". Basically, it means to purposefully leave a specific geographic area and relocate to another safer area, due to some sort of hazard. There are a variety of reasons why one would evacuate. Natural disasters and human made disasters are generally the reasons why we would evacuate (also known as evac), and those are the reasons we will discuss in this post. When it comes to evacuating a populated area under the direction of local, state or federal authorities there are two types of evacuation. These are voluntary and mandatory. Most of the time a voluntary evacuation will be initiated when there is a known hazard and there is a great possibility that staying in the area will be hazardous to life safety. A mandatory evacuation will be initiated when there is an extreme impending hazard that will definitely impact life safety for any and all who remain in the area. 

The laws and statutes that designate the authority of who can authorize an evacuation vary. Generally it is law enforcement chiefs, Emergency Managers, Mayors, County Commissioners or County Managers can make this decision at the local level. At the state level it is the governor or other designate policy group. Going from past experiences, whenever there is an evacuation, whether voluntary or mandatory it is best to get out when/if you can. It is often seen that responding agencies have to dedicate significant resources to send rescue to people who did not evacuate when they had the chance to, preventing these responders from attending to other duties. It is important to recognize that not every household has the resources to pick up and go when there is an evacuation order. Many times these are the folks who are forced to stay because they have nowhere to go, or don't have the resources to safely get out when they need to. This is where local emergency management and evacuation plans come into play. Local plans should indeed address those who cannot evacuate, whether due to access and functional needs or lack of resources. Contact your local Office of Emergency Management if you have questions about your local evacuation plans and what the plans mean for your household. 

Recently, we have seen evacuation orders sent out in Florida, Georgia, Texas and California due to hurricanes, flooding and fires. Most of these evacuation orders were sent out using some type of public notification system. The providers of these systems may vary from county to county and state to state, but generally they all have similar capabilities of sending voice, text and email messages to the people who are registered in their jurisdictions. Check with your local Office of Emergency Management and inquire about the notification system they use. If it is one you have to register for, go ahead and sign up!

We all should have some sort of plans for evacuations. Things you will need to think about are an emergency kit, some monetary savings, and knowing the different routes in and out of your area. World aware can help with emergency kits, and making solid plans to keep you safe during an evacuation.  

Shelter In Place

This boardroom can double as a shelter room!

This boardroom can double as a shelter room!

To Shelter In Place (SIP) means to separate yourself from a hostile external/outside environment.  This could be for a number of reasons such as gas leaks, Hazardous Material incidents, criminal activity (active shooter or bank robberies in the area) and severe inclement weather.  

Schools and governmental bodies have been making and exercising shelter in place plans for many years, and now many other types of organizations are seeing the need to develop these plans.  After assessing the best methods for sheltering in place, communication and training of staff on these plans is of great importance.  Considerations such as necessary supplies need to be made along with the plan development, as well as any additional steps needed to make the SIP area safer.  

World Aware can help with SIP plan development and training, as well as SIP supplies and equipment.  If you decide you need additional safety, we have extensive experience in dual use Shelter In Place/Safe rooms using security concepts that are nearly undetectable and can be applied to any existing office, conference room or other space. This dual use approach negates the need for a "stand alone" SIP/Safe Room, allowing your work or living space to double as a place of safety for your staff or family. Contact World Aware to discuss how Shelter In Place planning can help you.  

COOP plan importance.

What is a COOP plan? A Continuity of Operations plan (COOP) plan is a collection of resources, actions, procedures, and information that is developed, tested, and held in readiness for use in the event of a major disruption of operations.  Many different organizations have the need for and would benefit from a COOP plan.  Major disasters will disrupt the operations of most businesses, and the cost of maintaining operations without  some sort of plan or system for response and recovery is incalculable.  Non-profit organizations, governmental bodies, private industry, even private practices and small businesses are just examples of the many organizations that have made COOP plans an  intergral part of thier business model.  

Identification of assets and critical functions is an important part of COOP plan development.  Vulnerability assessments and informational interviews help to prioritize which functions are most important to keep the organization running.  

Having a COOP plan allows for a smooth recovery after any disruption in services.  Many organizations, such as medicaid  providers (of any size) are  required to have a COOP and emergency plan.  The potential for during and post disaster cost savings is incredible. Having a plan laid out for recovery of essential business functions allows for a more organized response after a disaster or disruption, decreasing the amount of funds needed to keep operations running.

World Aware can help your organization develop a customized Continuity of Operations Plan that will serve as a guide for your organization's healthy response and recovery to disaters. 

Small Businesses: Emergency preparedness steps you can take NOW!

Small Businesses: Emergency preparedness steps you can take NOW!

As a small business you may not have the time, need or resources to have a full time emergency manager to develop emergency plans and build response capacity at your business.  It is important to know that you can take simple preparedness steps that will make all of your staff safer.