Posts Tagged ‘emergency plan’


Expand your thinking with some NEW IDEAS

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017
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New Ideas

Real preparedness extends beyond the walls of our homes.

We spend a lot of time at Emergency Plan Guide examining the best supplies to lay in, and how to select the right emergency tools. Last week we reviewed in detail individual or family survival kits, and everything that needs to go into the best ones.

Yes, focusing closely on our immediate needs is a good idea.

But from time to time we need take a wider look around.  Joe and I often do this at our monthly team meetings.

This week’s Advisory could become a great topic for YOUR next meeting. At the very least, it will broaden your personal horizons!

Here are 7 news headlines to inspire NEUE IDEEN! (That’s German for “New Ideas!”)

For each headline, I’ve added a brief comment and then posed questions for you or your group to follow up with.

You know our favorite saying: “The more we all know, the safer we all will be.” Well, I hope these questions inspire a new level of knowledge – and safety!

1-“Fayetteville NC works on downtown evacuation plan in case of emergency on train tracks.”

It turns out Fayetteville has train tracks running right through the town. And the city doesn’t know exactly what those trains may be carrying. Since they have experienced more than one terrible train wreck, it seems to make sense to prepare for the next.

Questions: Do you have nearby train tracks? Do you know what’s being carried on them, and at what time of day? Perhaps more pertinent, do your city’s First Responders know this information? Find out! (Hint. It may be impossible . . . but whatever you can do will move the ball forward for your community.)

2-“Everett WA Graduates First Ever All Spanish Speaking Only CERT Class In Washington”

When the disaster hits, everyone will be pretty much in the same boat. Think of how much safer you’ll feel – and how much safer you’ll BE – when neighbors pitch in as a coordinated team!

Questions: Does your city put on CERT classes in another language? If not, what language/s should they consider? How could you or your group make that happen? (Think about reaching out to work sites, churches, private schools.)

3-“Florida’s 3,200 assisted living facilities and 640 nursing homes were ordered, by this week, to submit emergency plans that include enough generator power to run air conditioning . . .”

You surely heard about the 14 people who died in Florida during the aftermath of Irma. You may not have heard that nearly 2,000 facilities in FL haven’t yet complied with the order.

Questions: Do you have elderly relatives? Any in nursing facilities? What is that facility’s requirement for an emergency plan? What are your city’s requirements when it comes to emergency and/or evacuation plans for facilities of this sort? Can you bring pressure to bear if it appears to be necessary?

4-“The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency will begin testing its Attack Warning Signal or ‘Wailing Tone’ next month as they continue preparedness for attack from North Korea..”

Whether you live on the West Coast, the East Coast or in the middle of the country, a nuclear disaster is a frightening thought. It doesn’t have to be the result of war; it could just as well be the result of a natural disaster or even an accident at an aged facility.

Questions: Are there nuclear power plants anywhere near you? How old are they and what kind of maintenance do they receive and/or report on? What sort of warning signals do they have? (Have you ever heard one?) What’s the evacuation procedure for your home, your town? (Important: Sometimes the evacuation zones of plants overlap, which could make one or both of the individual plans inadequate.)

5-“Amid wildfire risk in Bay Area, UC Berkeley’s emergency management office to lose 50 percent of its staff…

This isn’t the only headline I’ve come across on the topic of staffing. Communities and their budgets change, often without much warning. If emergency management funds are cut, the quality of response to emergencies will decline.

Questions: Does your city have an Office of Emergency Management? An Emergency Operations Plan? Who heads up the department right now? What are the leader’s qualifications? What does the future for the department look like? What role can your local neighborhood group play in community preparedness? (Maybe you can get that department leader to be a guest speaker at one of your local meetings?)

Ask these same questions about the place where you work!

6-“JOHNSON COUNTY, ARKANSAS — The owners of C&H Hog Farms and the international corporation that supplies the operation’s swine are planning to apply for a permit to operate another farm, this one in a flood-prone area just south of Hartman.”

We heard just a couple of months ago about how unrestricted development added to the flooding tragedy in Houston. We all remember from 2014 the massive landslide that swept away an entire town in Washington – a town built below a hillside with a well-known history of slides.

Questions: What’s the status of your home and your community with regard to flood plains and/or past flooding? Has it been the victim of wildfires? What about hurricanes and/or tornados?

A developer, real estate agent and/or insurance agent may not be eager to share the history of the locale. In fact, they may not know it!

As a homeowner, you need to know this information. As a member of the wider community, you want everyone to know and be prepared to the extent possible.  What plans does the city have for growth and new development?  You CAN find out . . . and maybe keep ill-advised development from taking place.

7-PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — State health officials are encouraging people with special health care needs to enroll in an emergency registry.

In a widespread emergency, people with special needs will be most vulnerable. But they’ll not get the help they need if people don’t know they need it! Some sort of registry, like the one mentioned above, may help direct resources.

Questions: Does your state or local community have a registry for people with special health needs? How do you sign up? How is the registry maintained? How is it updated?  Note: People with special needs could be a target for unscrupulous or even criminal behavior, so privacy and security for any registry are paramount.

How to use these headlines.

OK, so while you’re digesting this spread of preparedness morsels, I hope you will have taken note of several questions that you want to answer for your personal benefit.

You can expect that getting those answers will take some time.

But as we have discussed many times, being prepared is a continual state of mind built on awareness, knowledge, and confidence.

I think pursuing news headlines like these can help on all fronts!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. Use these headlines at your next group meeting, or ask people to bring in their own news item on emergency preparedness. Pick a few to discuss. Come up with questions like those above and, if appropriate, turn getting answers into a group project.  (In our neighborhood team, we almost always have one small group or another pursuing one idea or another!)

 

Survey Tool for Your Group or Community

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
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Preparedness SurveyThis week I came across a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) survey through one of my Google Alerts. (Alerts are a great resource; find out about them here.) The survey is currently being put out to residents in several counties in Washington State.

It turns out that DHS has been conducting similar surveys in different communities since 2001, trying to track trends in preparedness.

And yes, some trends have emerged. For example, the surveys have found that full time employees have the highest level of personal readiness compared with other types of employees. People with children in school also report higher preparedness levels. And, as you might expect, different parts of the country have different levels of preparedness.

Overall, though, American preparedness has not improved markedly since 2001!

We here at Emergency Plan Guide are trying to change that trend!

Can we take advantage of this survey to improve the preparedness in our local groups?

I’m not suggesting that we use it like DHS does. I see some other uses appropriate for your local CERT meeting.

A look at the original survey.

Before I add my comments, here’s (nearly) the whole survey. (I edited it slightly.) Take a look to see what YOU think about it. (It is LONG. Scroll through quickly to get an idea of the scope and format.)

Citizen Expectation Survey (from Homeland Security)

 1. My home is located in the following area

  • ________________

2. My household includes: (Check all that apply)

  • Child (Birth – 5 years)
  • Senior Citizen(s) (65 and over)
  • Disabled Family Member(s)
  • Non-English Speaking Member(s)
  • Household Pet(s)
  • Tribal Member(s) (and Affiliation)

3. What’s your main source of local, state, and national news and information?

  • Television
  • AM/FM Radio
  • Newspaper/Magazine
  • Internet
  • Social Media

4. How do you primarily receive your local weather forecast information?

  • Television
  • AM/FM Radio
  • Newspaper/Magazine
  • Internet
  • Social Media

5. What is the best way of delivering severe weather or disaster news and updates to you?

  • All Hazards Weather Radio
  • AM/FM Radio
  • Television
  • E-mail
  • Phone Call
  • Text message
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Other Social Media

6. Does your family have a Family Emergency Plan?

  • Yes
  • No

7. Does your Family Emergency Plan include: (Check all that apply)

  • I do not have a Family Emergency Plan
  • My plan includes how to contact each other in the event we were separated during a disaster (phone, text, e-mail addresses)
  • My plan includes an out-of-state family contact person for when all local communications are down
  • My plan includes a specific meeting place in the event my family is separated
  • My plan includes how and where to evacuate to in the event we must abandon our home during a disaster
  • Other

8. Does your or your child’s school have an Emergency Plan for disaster?

  • I have no children
  • I have no children who attend school
  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure

9. Does your workplace have an Emergency Plan for disaster?

  • I am not currently employed
  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure

10. Do you and all other members of your family, including your pets have a GO KIT, Get Away Bag or similar item? (Check all that apply)

  • Myself
  • Each family member
  • My pet
  • We have none
  • I do not know what a GO KIT or Get Away Bag is

11. I am aware of the risk and hazard to all local disasters, such as, earthquake, tsunami, severe weather, flooding, tornado and wildfire.

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure
  • I have no risk or hazard to any of these disaster events

12. I expect an Earthquake to affect my community in the next:

  • year
  • 3 years
  • 5 years
  • 10 years
  • longer than 10 years
  • never

13. I expect a Tsunami to affect my community in the next:

  • year
  • 3 years
  • 5 years
  • 10 years
  • longer than 10 years
  • never

14. I expect Flooding to affect my community in the next:

  • year
  • 3 years
  • 5 years
  • 10 years
  • longer than 10 years
  • never

15. If a disaster is threatening, my expectation is, I will receive warning and instructions from the following: (Check all that apply)

  • Local City Government
  • Local County Government
  • Tribal Government
  • State Government
  • Federal Government
  • ALL Hazard Alert Weather Radio
  • National Weather Service
  • Local Emergency Management
  • Local Law Enforcement
  • Local Fire Department
  • Television
  • AM/FM Radio
  • All Hazard Alert Broadcast Siren (AHAB Warning Siren)
  • FEMA

16. If a disaster situation was imminent, would you evacuate your home if warned to do so by official authorities?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure

17. If you had a 10 hour advance warning of the need to evacuate your home, how long would you expect it to take, to prepare and leave your home, once you receive the initial evacuation warning?

  • I would not evacuate
  • Under an hour
  • 1-2 hours
  • 2-4 hours
  • 4-6 hours
  • Longer

18. If you were to evacuate following a warning given by local authorities, would you bring your pet(s) with you?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure
  • I have no pets – I would evacuate
  • I have no pets – I would not evacuate

19. If you were to evacuate following an order given by local authorities, where would you most likely go?

  • I would not leave my home
  • I would stay with family/friends in my County
  • I would stay with family/friends in an area other than my County
  • I would stay in a hotel/motel in my County
  • I would stay in a hotel/motel in an area other than my County
  • If none of the above, explain where you would go.

20. What modes of transportation are available to you in the event you have to evacuate from your home? (Check all that apply)

  • I have no available transportation
  • Private automobile
  • Public transportation
  • Bicycle
  • I would rely on friends or family
  • Other (please specify)

21. I expect emergency response agencies to assist me if I must evacuate my home.

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure

22. If my County were impacted by a significant disaster event lasting multiple days, I expect Federal and State Response Agencies, including FEMA and the Red Cross, to respond within:

  • 12 hours
  • 24 hours
  • 2 days
  • 3 days
  • 4 days
  • Longer than 4 days

23. If my County were impacted by a significant disaster event lasting multiple days, I expect Local, City and County Response Agencies to respond within:

  • 12 hours
  • 24 hours
  • 2 days
  • 3 days
  • 4 days
  • Longer than 4 days

24. In a significant disaster event lasting multiple days, who would you seek out to obtain food or shelter assistance?

  • School
  • City Hall
  • Local Fire Department
  • Local Police Department
  • Church
  • Hospital
  • Unsure
  • Other
  • If other, please specify here

25. Have you signed up for the Emergency Alert and Notification System in your county?

  • Yes
  • No
  • I do not know if we have an Alert and Notification System in my county.

26. Do you have a NOAA All Hazards “Alert” Weather Radio?

  • Yes
  • No

27. Which news headline would likely interest you enough to read the associated article?

  • A Huge Winter Storm is Approaching With Winds Exceeding 150 mph and a Large Storm Surge.
  • We’re Awaiting One of the Most Extraordinary, Mind Boggling, Meteorologic Marvels, Never Before Witnessed by any Earthbound Creature.
  • Neither Headline Would Interest Me Enough to Continue Reading the Article.

28. Please indicate if you would like more information on any of the following:

  • Evacuation
  • Disabled/Functional Needs Disaster Preparedness
  • Livestock Preparedness/Evacuation
  • Pet Preparedness/Evacuation
  • Family Preparedness
  • Business Preparedness
  • School Disaster Preparedness
  • My Local County Emergency Management
  • Disaster Mitigation
  • Disaster Response
  • Disaster Recovery
  • FEMA/Flood Programs
  • Evacuation Routes/Shelters
  • Communications
  • Earthquake
  • Tsunami
  • Severe Weather
  • Disaster Volunteer Organizations
  • My Local County Emergency Notification System

29. Do you have suggestions, comments, questions or constructive criticism? Please write your comments or concerns here. (If you desire a reply, please leave your name, email, and phone number).

How to use the survey as training material. 

I’m usually an enthusiastic survey taker (or interview giver), but this survey is so long that even I felt like abandoning it halfway through.

Therefore, my first idea would be to divide the survey up into several sections or themes and use each one as part of, or the main focus of, a group meeting. For example:

  • Ask group members to complete a section of the survey themselves, and then use that section for discussion.
  • Assign sections of the survey to sub-groups and have them prepare background material or collect samples to share with the others.
  • Create still another version of the survey for neighbors who aren’t yet part of the group. You wouldn’t collect the surveys, but would design them as “eye-openers” for your neighbors!

Family Needs – Questions 1 – 5

Every family is different. Poll the group to detect commonalities. Share resources, such as the best TV channels for weather news, etc. What particular challenges would you have associated with children, older people, people not speaking English, etc.? What actions can your group take to help meet some of these challenges?

Individual Family Plans – Questions 6 – 9

If your group is not likely to have plans, whether family or work related, perhaps you can focus on providing step-by-step instructions on what should be included. At Emergency Plan Guide, we devote about half our Advisories to one facet or another of planning! Here’s a recent article on building a Family Plan and a one-pager for increasing workplace preparedness.

Building a Go Bag – Question 10

Provide people with a list; call a meeting that focuses on “show and tell” using one of the leaders’ bags. At work, make copies of “What to take with you” and distribute them. Check out our new custom survival kit workbook for families, too — it works for all families and can be an excellent benefit for employees.

Likely Threats – Questions 11 – 14.

We’ve had good luck getting experts to train us on different natural and man-made threats. YouTube has great resources, too. Stick with the threats that are most likely; no need to overwhelm everyone with EVERY possible threat! People will have their own amazing stories to share!

Warnings and Evacuation – Questions 15 – 26

Traditionally, about half the people, when asked, say they will NOT evacuate! Be sure people understand how and when to evacuate, and the fact that once they’re out, they can’t come back. Don’t forget to discuss how people with disabilities will be assisted to evacuate, and how to handle pets and large animals. In particular, note how long it might take for “authorities” to show up with help. (Check with your local Red Cross.) “Evacuation Realities” would be a popular topic to attract all kinds of visitors to a group meeting.

As for the “warnings,” you can help people know what to expect locally, show them how to sign up for local alert apps, and see if you can arrange for the purchase of NOAA Weather Radios.

Not sure I’d include – Questions 27 – 29

Caution: You may find some of these questions ask for information that you consider “too personal” to share openly. Feel free to remove or adjust those questions. In any case, be sure to discuss with your group the importance of privacy and how to maintain it.

Training is an ongoing challenge. (That’s why I pulled together my book on CERT Meeting Ideas.)

Finding already-developed materials like this survey is a boon to CERT group leaders. While this particular survey wasn’t designed for groups, it can certainly work as a refresher, as a discussion starter, or even as an agenda for several separate meetings.

Let us know if and how you find it useful!

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

 

 

 

Personal Safety – Should You Consider a Stun Gun?

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
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The news is so frightening these days!

Threatened bombings, actual shootings and beatings, rape. Awful. Disheartening. And, unfortunately, reality.

Here at Emergency Plan Guide we try to be as upbeat and level-headed as possible. At the same time, it seems sensible to be aware of personal safety options.

One option, legal in most states, is a stun gun.

You hold the stun gun in your hand, and when you press it against the body of an attacker, its “electrical punch” can completely disable and disorient him for seconds or minutes, giving you the chance to get away. In fact, the zapping sound and electric blue flash of a stun gun being set off may discourage the attacker from approaching in the first place.

Here are two examples, directly from Amazon.com.  Both are made by Vipertek. The first image (right) shows VIPERTEK VTS-191 – 25,000,000 V Heavy Duty Stun Gun – Rechargeable with LED Tactical Flashlight (Black)

This stun gun is incorporated into a heavy-duty LED flashlight.

The second model, below, comes in different colors and while the image doesn’t exactly show it, it is much smaller and lighter than the flashlight. It is about the size of a small TV remote.

VIPERTEK VTS-979 – 30,000,000 V Stun Gun – Rechargeable with Safety Disable Pin & LED Flashlight (Pink)

Is this really something to consider carrying?

Here are the questions I asked as I was researching for this post.

1. Is a stun gun legal?

Stun guns are treated differently in different cities, different counties and different states! Sometimes you have to go through a registration process to own one.

To give you an idea, one stun gun advertised on Amazon carries this disclosure: “We do not ship to the following locations: Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, District of Columbia, Annapolis, MD, Baltimore, MD, Chicago, IL, Philadelphia, PA, Baltimore County, MD, Crawford County, IA.”

If you intend to purchase one, I recommend you check carefully to find out the LATEST rules governing buying and carrying stun guns in your town. If you plan to travel with your stun gun, then check again, because different rules apply there, too. (Mostly, it appears as though a deactivated stun gun can be carried in checked luggage. But don’t take my word for it!)

A good place to start your legal research: http://www.stungunbuyersguide.com/stun-gun-laws/

2. Is a stun gun the same as a taser?

When it comes to legislation, stun guns are sometimes lumped together with tasers, and other times are treated separately.  For our purposes, though, there is a distinct difference.

  • A taser is a “long-distance” (15-20 ft.) weapon. It shoots out wires that carry the electrical current, and once it’s shot, you can’t quickly reload. Tasers start at around $400 and the “professional” models used by police cost more than $1,000. These tasers are of colored plastic in the shape of a pistol, with a hand grip and trigger, and are worn in a holster.
  • The stun gun, on the other hand, is a close-up defense tool. It has to be pressed against the body to create the circuit; it can be used repeatedly as long as its battery is still charged. Stun guns start at just over $10 and there are many available in the $20-40 range. They could be carried in a purse or pocket.

3. How do you charge the stun gun?

Obviously, your stun gun needs to be charged to have any impact. The typical gun comes with rechargeable batteries and a cord that you plug into the wall. You’ll get instructions to charge it fully (10-12 hrs?) when you receive it and then to “top it off” on a monthly basis.

A solar-powered charger suitable for charging your computer or phone would likely work to charge your stun gun, too. Check.

4. Other features to consider?

Stun guns have been incorporated into other personal items. We mentioned the flashlight/stun gun style above. Stun guns have also been incorporated into iphone lookalikes, into actual iphone cases, and into batons and other professional law enforcement tools.

There are many sizes and styles.

Pick the one that suits your own needs and lifestyle.

If I felt threatened, or were heading into an unsavory or dangerous place, I’d have my stun gun in my hand and ready to use. I personally like the “safety disable pin” that comes with the pink example above. The stun gun comes with a wrist strap which is attached to the pin. (Scroll over all the images to see the wrist strap.) If the stun gun is taken away from you in a struggle, the pin will be pulled out. This stops the stun gun from working so it can’t be turned against you.

In my opinion, the stun gun is closer to being a weapon than other safety items we’ve talked about. I’d investigate carefully before deciding to carry one or to give one to a family member.

It might, however, be something that would give you new peace of mind.

Virginia
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. Do you already have a stun gun? Have you ever used it? What more information can you share with Emergency Plan Guide readers to help us make our decisions?

 

 

 

 

Flaw in your emergency plan?

Monday, September 29th, 2014
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f course, you hope nothing will ever happen.

Broken security glassAnd it’s painful to imagine yourself, a loved one or a co-worker buried in darkness under debris, fighting to stay alive long enough to be found.

Almost too painful to contemplate.

But if you’ve watched the news, you know that this has been a reality for dozens, even hundreds of people this year alone!

It’s also a reality that most lives that can be saved will be saved by neighbors or co-workers in the first 15-30 minutes.  In a big disaster, First Responders are simply overwhelmed.

In a big disaster, you and the people around you become the First Responders whether you like it or not!

When asked, about half the American public says they have considered all this and that they are prepared with a plan for disaster.

When questioned a bit more, though . . .

Even prepared families admit to a number of flaws in their planning.

How about you?

Flaw number oneDoing only the minimum.

. . . like storing some water and food at home and letting it go at that.

If this applies to you, perhaps you have the notion that bad things only happen to OTHER people???

The top three emergency supplies most commonly overlooked:

  • Medicines for at least 10 days
  • Emergency Communications for when phones are out
  • Light to see by at night.

Remember, when the electricity goes, phones don’t work, your cell phone can’t be recharged, there’s no internet, no heating, no lighting, no gas for the car, no ATMs, no cash registers at the market . . . the list goes on. Water and food are just the start of what you’ll need.

Flaw number two – Not thinking about where you’ll actually be when the disaster hits.

Where will your children be, where will other family members be?  How and when will you make it home?

There’s a really good chance that when the disaster hits you won’t be at home where your emergency supplies are stored!

Take a moment to think about your day:

At 7 a.m., where are your family members? What about at 8? At 9? Have they arrived at work or at school? Are any of them on the road? When do they start heading home again? How will they manage if they get home and you don’t?

Flaw number threeIgnoring planning at your work.

Statistics show that 3 out of 4 small business owners don’t even have an emergency preparedness plan. Without a plan, after a disaster half those businesses will fail and take the jobs of their employees down with them.

Other stats are even more sobering:

“If the company can’t get back to work within five days, there’s a 90% chance you’ll all be out of work within a year!”

This applies to an at-home or part-time business as much as to a full-fledged enterprise with employees.

Does the place you work have a plan to . . .

  • Take care of employee safety and survival?
  • Help employees connect with family members?
  • Maintain essential functions if the building can’t be used?

These are only three of the possible flaws in a plan. As you can imagine, every person’s plan is somewhat different.

What’s the solution?

Take it a step at a time. When it comes to emergency preparations for the family, start with one of the simple Top 10 Lists like this one. And make sure you have completed a Family Communications Plan. At work, get the conversation started using our simple flyer.

 

Follow up. Get these resources now and make sure you won’t be blamed for obvious flaws in your plan.

Or worse, hear one of your family members say, “Why didn’t you do something to protect us?”

When the emergency hits it will be too late to make any corrections.

 

 

EmergencyPlanGuide.org authors Joe Krueger and Virginia Nicols live in earthquake country.  They’ve worked with major corporations on disaster recovery programs and have headed up their neighborhood CERT team (Community Emergency Response Team) for the past 13 years. Both are graduates of the FEMA CERT, NIM and ICS programs.  In addition, Joe holds a General Class Amateur Radio Operator’s license and is certified by the American Red Cross in Emergency Shelter Management.  For more emergency preparedness ideas, planning guides and ongoing tips, visit:  www.EmergencyPlanGuide.org