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Hurricane Communications

Monday, August 23rd, 2010
Communication is Key in Any Emergency

Communication is Key in Any Emergency

Second in a Series about Hurricane Preparedness and Recovery

Hurricanes are unique emergencies in that they are predictable. So there is no excuse for failing to prepare to respond with decisive action. Although you can’t control when a hurricane or other emergency may happen, it’s imperative that you take personal responsibility to make sure you are ready.  This week, in our continuing series about hurricanes, we’ll look at one of the best ways to prepare for and recover after tropical storms and hurricanes—developing a comprehensive Communications Plan.

Although there is no easy answer—or “silver bullet”—to solve every problem that can hamper the efforts of law enforcement, firefighting, rescue and emergency medical personnel before, during and after natural disasters, the surest way to reduce confusion and quickly restore order is to establish a Communications Plan before you need one.

But what exactly is a Communications Plan?

An Emergency Communications’ Plan outlines formal decision-making structures and clearly defined leadership roles necessary for coordinating emergency communications’ capabilities. In other words, make sure you plan in advance to manage any and every emergency situation. Assess the situation and use common sense and available resources to take care of yourself and your co-workers or family members and to manage the recovery of your family or organization.

To help you with the process, FEMA has put together free resources including a Family Emergency Plan as well as a Business Continuity and Disaster Preparedness Plan, which is posted online for easy-access to clients of the Allied Universal, Inc. Training System. The business plan is designed to encourage you to gather emergency information and formalize plans for staying in business following a disaster, and includes information critical for coordinating with neighboring businesses, cooperating with emergency personnel and considering critical operations, staff and procedures.

Other organizations also provide free emergency resources. For example, The American Red Cross has a Safe and Well Website to help families keep in touch after a disaster. If you have been affected by a disaster, this website provides a way for you to register yourself as “safe and well.” From a list of standard messages, you can select those that you want to communicate to your family members, letting them know of your well-being. Other communication services available on the Safe and Well website:

  • USPS, which provides continuing mail service for those displaced by disasters through change of address forms.
  • National Next of Kin Registry, an organization where the public can archive emergency point of contact information. Emergency agencies access the system when there is a need to locate next of kin in urgent situations.
  • Community Voice Mail, which offers free personalized phone numbers with voicemail to people in crisis and transition for job search, housing, healthcare and family contact.
  • Contact Loved Ones, which is a free voice message service, accessible from any phone, to reestablish contact between those affected by a disaster and their loved ones and friends.

Also, at the state and local level, you should be able to access additional information specific to your geographical location. One such resource is put out by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). And weather advisories are put out by the National Hurricane Center.

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. Check back next week, when we will continue our series about hurricane safety and preparation. In the meantime, BE SAFE.

Emergency Family Plan

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009
Will you and your family be ready if disaster strikes?

Will you and your family be ready if disaster strikes?

Planning for an emergency is a project for the entire family. Get your children involved in preparedness to help them understand how important it is to be prepared and encourage them to remain calm under duress. Emergencies could, potentially, happen when you are away and the kids are home. So be sure the babysitter knows the emergency plans, as well.

Earthquakes. Floods. Fire. If one of these strikes, will your family be prepared?

The first step is to identify and focus on the types of events that might occur. Fire happens no matter where you live. Earthquakes are more regional, but remember; some places you wouldn’t think about have had earthquakes. Floods are more common in some areas than others. So, if your home is located in a floodplain, be sure you establish emergency plans to share with your relatives and neighbors.

So how exactly can you get your kids involved?

  • Do a home hazard scavenger hunt to identify dangerous objects. Check every chest of drawers and other large furniture to make sure everything is well-secured to a wall. What about paintings and other loose items? Imagine an earthquake. What could, potentially happen to your possessions?
  • Make an emergency kit! FEMA has a great online matching game that allows children to visualize the key components of an emergency kit. Don’t forget the flashlights and canned goods!
  • After you have squared away your kit, it is time to make a plan! Again, we recommend that you get your children involved. The plan should be written out. But you can also include some simple graphic designs, clip art or photos into the plan to make it easy for younger kids to understand. Here are some key points to cover.
  • Identifying information about each family member
  • Phone contact information. Provide multiple numbers including the addresses of relatives who live far away in case the emergency has knocked out local communications. Put copies of photos in the plan so they can be easily distributed if someone is missing.
  • Make sure everyone understands escape routes from the home and the group meeting area.
  • Large families can enlist older kids as “watchers” over the younger ones
  • Ready.gov has a good emergency plan template

After a disaster, you will need to make sure all of your family members are accounted for and healthy. Then, it’s time to contact agencies such as your local Red Cross and to keep watch on alerts from FEMA.

With proper planning, you can help ensure your family’s safety in case of real emergency. Involvement of all family members is crucial. So Allied Universal, Inc. recommends that you make your plan today. BE SAFE.

Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst: September is National Preparedness Month

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

On this seventh anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, preparedness in the event of a disaster has even greater importance to Americans.

As a society, we must be ready to handle – at a moment’s notice – emergencies in our homes, businesses and communities.

But it’s not just the ongoing threat of attack for which we should prepare. Natural disasters – such as devastating hurricanes, floods and earthquakes – and the outbreak of epidemic diseases all demand a plan.

“Those with the capacity and wherewithal to help themselves must do so in advance, so that in the event of an emergency, responders can first assist those who are unable to tend to themselves,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, in a statement.

Throughout September, the Department of Homeland Security’s Ready Campaign – part of National Preparedness Month – highlights preparedness steps, including having an emergency supply kit, making a family emergency plan, and becoming informed about different types of emergencies.

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