From the deadliest wildfire in California’s history to the tragic Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the United States experienced unthinkable catastrophes throughout 2018.
The time is now for local governments, businesses, and other organizations to take these national tragedies and use them as a reference to ensure their emergency preparedness plans are in place for the new year.
By definition, emergency preparedness refers to the steps taken to make sure you are safe before, during, and after an emergency. These plans are key for your safety in both natural disasters and man-made disasters.
Taking the time to review your emergency preparedness plan can only help you going forward.
3 Steps to Develop an Emergency Preparedness Plan
Step 1: Identify the Risks
There are some notable risks to take into consideration when developing your emergency preparedness plan for natural disasters, active shooter situations, and cyberattacks.
- Natural Disasters:
Over the course of 2018 the U.S. saw multiple natural disasters. Reports from the National Centers for Environmental Information state climate change plays a large role in why natural disasters are becoming more intense, destructive, and costly. California suffered 21 fatalities after detrimental rain and mudslides flattened homes and flooded freeways. The state also had record-breaking wildfires such as the Camp Fire in Northern California and the Woolsey Fire in Southern California. Hurricanes Florence and Michael caused widespread flooding and enormous amounts of damage to homes, towns, and communities. These are just a few of the natural disasters that hit the country in 2018.
- Mass Shootings:
The number of 2018 mass shooting in the U.S. reached a whopping 307 by November. Business Insider revealed that there have been nearly as many U.S. mass shootings as days in 2018 - a shocking and heartbreaking statistic. The Gun Violence Archive stated more than 12,000 people have died from gun-related violence in the U.S. this year, and more than 24,000 have been injured. About
- Cyber Security Threats
Although not reported as frequently as natural disasters, ‘cyber 9/11’ scenarios worry experts and are definitely something to be aware of. CNBC reports that cyberattacks causing major disruption to public services have happened many times, some of which are considered old news. The most recent major cyberattack occurred in June 2017 – the NotPetya cyberattacks. In the U.S., a facility owned by Merck was shut down and the company had to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of back-up vaccines stockpiled by the Center for Disease Control.
With these risks in mind, you should consider which may apply to your local government or organization and implement an emergency preparedness plan accordingly.
Step 2: Develop Your Emergency Preparedness Plan
Now that the risks have been identified, the next step is to develop an emergency preparedness plan. An ideal plan should be clear and comprehensive in order to ensure resident and/or employee safety. A key component of your plan is simply knowing what to expect.
If you are in a geographical location that is subject to hurricanes, for example, you should develop a plan based around . Be sure to include necessary safety procedures and what damage you can expect from such a storm.
You should clearly outline how people will receive emergency alerts and warnings, where they can seek shelter, what notable evacuation routes there are, and lastly - what communication plan will be most effective.
A clear and effective communication plan is very important when it comes to emergency preparedness. Consider the below questions to ask each year:
- Have communication preferences changed (text versus phone call versus email)?
- Are there any language barriers to consider?
- Are there any new technologies being offered that would enhance your emergency response plan?
- Are there opportunities to go beyond emergency preparedness and educate people throughout the year?
If you’re using an emergency alert system, check to see if you can implement . These automated alerts can keep residents and employees informed in real-time. Some systems, like SwiftReach, provide the ability to send automated weather alerts through several communication methods, ensuring that more people get the message when it counts.
Step 3: Take Action!
Your plan is in place, so now what? The answer is: Practice and test all aspects of your emergency preparedness plan!
Training your employees on how to implement your emergency preparedness plan and how to use your emergency alert system can ensure vital mistakes are avoided when a disaster occurs. We learned a lot from the infamous Hawaii Missile Incident that warned residents about an impending ballistic missile threat. Although it was an accident, many citizens were terrified, deserting their cars and flocking to shelters.
Some routine exercises we recommend include: Regular trainings on emergency alert system use and testing the system daily using several different communication channels including text, social media, and phone calls.
Emergency preparedness is a necessity to any local government, business, or organization. Considering all aspects of an emergency, how to implement and communicate your plan, and how to train and test your systems are all key to its success.
SwiftReach provides thousands of organizations across the country with industry-leading emergency notification and incident management solutions.
Ready to enhance your 2019 emergency preparedness plan? Contact us today!