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When it comes to emergency preparation and recovery, always prepare for the worst

Apply Murphy's Law to your disaster preparedness plans.

According to Murphy’s Law, “Everything that can go wrong will.” And though many view this kind of pessimism as extreme, when it comes to disaster preparedness, it’s a healthy posture to assume.

Emergency Management lessons from Hurricane Katrina bear this out. In fact, Pat Santos, deputy director of Louisiana’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, recently told emergency managers that (people) should remember that it’s not ‘if’ a disaster strikes but ‘when.’”

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate concurs: “By establishing relationships now and planning for high-impact events, communities and the nation will be better prepared.”

So, as a building owner or property manager, what 10 steps can you take which assume that, as it concerns your building, the worst is bound to happen?

  1. A Disaster Will Strike. As a whole, people are more inclined to believe that disasters can hit home since the Y2K scare and 9/11. However, most continue to think that catastrophes happen to “other people.” Resist the urge to defer making emergency preparations. Disasters happen every day to everyday people worldwide.
  2. The power will go out if an emergency strikes. If the power fails, your furnace will most likely go out, as well. Your best bet is to invest in good, high-quality cold weather gear, such as coats, gloves and sleeping bags and blankets, for yourself, employees and family members. Fires can result from the use alternative indoor heat sources such as space heaters and propane lamps and require power for operation. So use extreme caution. 
  3. Food will be in short supply. There could be a run on supermarkets if a major disaster hits. Stockpiling food for emergencies needn’t be expensive. Store inexpensive, nonperishable items such as rice beans, noodles and peanut butter. Canned food has a long shelf life. Another option is Meals Ready to Eat (MREs). These are ideal since they can be even eaten without cooking. This is important since you should never use a BBQ grill inside. If you must use a grill or campfire to heat meals in emergencies, do so outside.
  4. Water sources will be contaminated and bottled water will run low. When East coast residents were preparing for Hurricane Irene, stores sold out on basic necessities including water. Don’t wait for an emergency to buy extra water. Pick up extra gallons each time you visit the grocery store. You could also invest in commercial water barrels and fill them with tap water, as long as you disinfect the barrels with a diluted bleach mixture to purify water. In a pinch, you can survive by drinking the water in the toilet reservoir tank.
  5. The Lights will go out. Stock up on candles and battery-operated or crank-operated flashlights.
  6. Communications will be knocked out. Purchase transistor radios and plenty of spare batteries. Hand-crank radios are available. Certain brands of FRS radios also have AM/FM capability. These can be used in addition to a larger, battery powered “boom box” type radio.
  1. Medical Care will be in high demand. During emergencies, hospitals are overrun and medical professionals are in short supply. Invest in First Aid training as well as a basic kit so you will be prepared to administer basic medical assistance to those in need.
  2. Transportation will be congested, maybe even at a standstill. If a major emergency strikes and the power goes out, traffic could get ugly. Subway systems, buses and trains might also be affected. Your best course of action in this case is to pack a “go” bag in the back of your car that includes a good pair of walking shoes.
  3. You may have to flee from dangerous situations. So fitness is important. Regular exercise and good nutrition are important for quality of life as well as in cases of emergencies.
  4. You will run out of toilet paper. It might be easy to forget the little things that make life tolerable. But running out of TP can be a drag. So stock up now before disaster strikes.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.5 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit for more information.

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