Disasters can strike at any moment, with an impact that can be devastating. As we have witnessed with the catastrophic earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and the targeted Pico-Robertson shootings, the importance of being prepared has never been more evident.
Whether it’s a weather-related calamity or an unexpected act of violence, the key to minimizing the harm caused by distressing events is to be prepared to handle them. In this post, we will explore some of the steps that can be taken to ensure individuals and communities are ready and establish an effective culture of preparedness. From incorporating steps into daily life to creating a solid emergency plan, we want to provide you with the tools and knowledge needed to deal with the next emergency.
Making Readiness a Habit
Building a culture of preparedness involves developing habits and taking everyday actions that can help prepare individuals and organizations for emergencies. For example, being mindful of exits on your premises and ensuring that doors are closed and sometimes locked behind you can help prevent the spread of fire or other emergencies. It’s also important to ensure that exits are clearly marked and easily accessible. This can be accomplished by putting up visible signs and keeping pathways clear. Doing a walk-through of your surroundings regularly and being aware of safety equipment like fire extinguishers and defibrillators is crucial for emergency preparedness. By making these actions a regular part of the daily routine, individuals and organizations can ensure that they are always ready to handle the next challenge.
"If you See Something, Say Something"
This phrase might sound like common sense but the meaning behind it is significant. It’s important to encourage people to report suspicious behavior or activity that could potentially cause harm. A door that doesn’t close properly or an emergency exit that is inaccessible is a vulnerability to the security of a building and the people inside.
Creating a Plan
Developing a concrete safety plan is essential. The plan should outline specific steps to be taken in case of an emergency, build a chain of command, and assign clear roles and responsibilities for the Emergency Response Team (ERT.) Additionally, the plan should update protocols and procedures and ensure there is effective communication so that everyone is informed and updated during an emergency.
Communication and a Clear Chain of Command
Effective communication before and during an incident is one of the most crucial aspects of being prepared for an emergency situation. For example, in the event of a building evacuation, clear communication among management is imperative to executing the plan effectively and efficiently. Similarly, designated individuals should be assigned to execute the plan and make sure it runs smoothly. A crisis management team, with a clear chain of command and an incident commander, should be established so that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities, someone is in charge and decisions are made quickly.
Incorporate Training and Safety Exercises
To be fully prepared for potential emergencies, it is important to train the crisis management team. Running through drills and exercises consistently will help the team improve response and reactions during emergencies. Incorporating these safety drills (lockdowns, fire drills, active shooter exercises, and more) and practicing them regularly will build confidence in your team to respond effectively to real-life emergencies.
Emergencies can happen at a moment’s notice and being prepared is critical to minimizing the impact. By taking steps to build a culture of preparedness, communities can become better equipped to handle crises and reduce the damage caused by them. Preparedness is not a one-time effort, but a continuous process that requires commitment and time. But in the end, the benefits are numerous and it will help create a safer environment for all.