Safe Evacuation – what exactly does safe evacuation look like?

Part 1 – Self-Evacuation (home)

What exactly is a ‘safe evacuation’? That depends of course on circumstances but the short answer is:

know your safe evacuation route, grab your Emergency Kit, get out – stay out – call for help

The long answer is a bit more complicated but actually quite interesting. So, let’s start at the very beginning with

What is an emergency evacuation and when does it happen?

An emergency evacuation is the immediate and urgent movement of people out of harm’s way to a safe location, away from threats or hazards (more see hazards and risks – what’s the difference).

Examples of emergency evacuations range from a small scale building evacuation to the large scale evacuation of an entire town or district. Reasons for an emergency evacuation include small and large incidents that may trigger fire or a spill, attacks or other security violation such as bomb threats, natural disasters such as severe weather, storms, flooding, earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic eruptions, wildfires and also health related incidents such as an epidemic or pandemic.

Fire Drills and small scale Emergency Evacuation

First, a bit of comedy with Fa-fa-fa-fire! – Fawlty Towers

With the above in mind, Alex Gleeman has an excellent article titled Five ways to avoid the Fawlty Towers fire drill debacle in Health and Safety News which I encourage you to read but in this blog I want to focus on the ‘safe evacuation’ bit – or rather, complete lack thereof.

In the clip, Basil apologetically orders his returning guests to assemble in the lobby because “..something I ought to mention” which after escalating confusion eventually turns into raising the alarm ‘fa-fa-fa-FIRE!” causing the two elderly ladies to almost jump out of their skins, Polly subsequently ushering everyone out. Everyone? Going where exactly and for how long? What happens next to the evacuees? Thankfully it’s a pleasant day judging by the sunshine visible beyond the entrance and everyone’s fair weather attire. Perhaps they all simply wonder down to the local pub and fortify themselves while all this blows over and they can return to their rooms at Fawlty Towers.

If you are a guest staying at a hotel, do you check and memorise your safe evacuation procedure? How about at your place of work or at home? Would you know how to safely get out by two different routes, your primary and secondary escape paths? Day 5 of this year’s September is Preparedness Month campaign #30days30waysUK was on #PlanYourEscape.

Day14 #30days30-waysUK discussed that emergencies not only happen during the day. You may need to evacuate in the middle of the night. There may be hazards such as smoke, broken glass, debris or rubble you may only dimly be aware of. There may be a power cut.

 

It makes sense to be better prepared for ‘self-evacuation’

  • make your home ‘safe evacuation plan’ with primary and secondary escape routes from every room and share it with everyone in your household
  • under your bed, put a pair of sturdy shoes and a torch
  • have an emergency kit (i.e. GoBag) for safe evacuation that you can grab at a moment’s notice
  • practise your plan

And before I leave you, here is an excellent video from Canada that demonstrates the importance of a fire escape plan.

Self-evacuation is not just important at home but also at your place of work or study; more about that next time. Have a great week. Be prepared, not scared.

Monika
For more Resilience Blog use the right hand navigation. For emergency kit and practical resources use the top navigation. For more on Emergency+Disaster Preparedness head over to our FREE resources at the Preparedness Hub. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Thank you!

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Community Resilience: Aid versus Preparedness

Building community resilience means building group solidarity and the connection between this, faith organisations and charities is well known. Elsewhere I’ve written about Resilience – drawing on Faith for Strength and how faith organisations including places of worship could play an increasingly active role in preparedness. How effective responses from faith organisations are, especially in times of crisis, emergency or disaster is clear: often they are the first on the ground lending assistance and giving aid. In some instances, this is not unproblematic, however, as my counter terrorism colleagues will appreciate for the provision of aid and welfare can also lead to creating a so called ‘enabling environment’ for extremist groups. Maybe this is part of the reason why some of those who really are doing good unconditionally and purely from a humanitarian point-of-view have such a hard time. Maybe it’s simply because some of them look a little different.

Meet Ravi Singh:

Khalsa Aid has a long and outstanding track record of providing aid not only internationally, but also  – yes you are hearing correctly – here in the UK.

“This is our community, these are our countrymen who are in dire need. I never knew the amount of devastation until we drove around to get to this place, we had to go several different routes and it’s amazing. The floods … the fields are like lakes. It’s unbelievable, how will they recover from this disaster? I think we all need to pull together; it’s very very important. ”

Ravi Singh, 2014  Disaster Charity Khalsa Aid Helps (UK) Flood Victims

 

 

“The impact of the floods in the north of England and Scotland has been enormous. Yet the disaster has brought together people who might never normally mix – from the armies of Sikh and Muslim volunteers to the individuals sending care parcels.”

 

The image in The Guardian article How the floods united the north from which the above quote is taken, shows volunteers from Khalsa Aid, giving out food to villagers in the flood-hit Lancashire village of Croston.

…. and in July 2016 they were handing out water to stranded motorists during a heatwave

So, why am I telling you all this? While absolutely brilliant, it simply should not come to this in the first place. Not today, in the 21st century and not in the UK, a first world country.

What is to be done?

Places of worship as centres for community resilience

Previously I’ve talked about Community Resilience Building Blocks – it all starts with prepared individuals which puts the onus on individuals and why that is tricky in Resilience and Preparedness Roadblocks: what stops us? While fundamentally ‘preparedness must begin individually, we also all know that real strength lies in social groups and solidarity; see Altruism and why it pays to be kind.  As I mentioned earlier, one way of building community resilience is by drawing on Faith for Strength but it goes further, for places of worship can do a lot more than prayer and can become the nexus for community preparedness, responding to spiritual as well as bodily needs during times of real crisis.

This approach is already happening in North Yorkshire. Last year the North Yorkshire Resilience Forum created a successful evidence-based model approach which you can read more about in UK Community Resilience, a brilliant example of what works.  It is my and other people’s sincere hope that in the future this kind of forward thinking, pro-active model will be supported and made available much more widely across many parts of the UK. It is also my hope that eventually such models will tackle and include food security issues.

Places of worship are important for another reason: security

The UK Government Home Office reacted swiftly in the aftermath of the horrific attacks in France on Jacques Hamel, the 85 year old priest at St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray.

While certainly a step in the right direction, the funding scheme is sadly limited to securing property, rather than people.  Being rooted in (hate) crime prevention thinking, this is not surprising.  What a brilliant opportunity this could be to broaden capacities and capabilities!

Places of worship, similar to schools, feature as areas of refuge and shelter-in-place on many an emergency planner’s community emergency plan. Why not also provide the wider resources needed to to these communities so that they can respond in a major incident, emergency or disaster?

I leave you with this question on this hottest September days since 1911 and also with a link to our newest information hub for places of worship evaq8.co.uk/PlacesOfWorship

Wishing you a safe and prepared rest of the week.

Monika  

Thank you for dropping by. For more resilience blog, simply use the right hand navigation. For practical resources and kit, use the top navigation. This post is also accessed by bit.ly/AidVSPreparedness

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SIP: SHELTER-IN-PLACE | September is Preparedness Month

September is Preparedness Month

 

 

Day 7: SHELTER-IN-PLACE  or SIP for short, which we hope you do; a lovely cup of (ice) tea or coffee, perhaps something stronger, while you get comfortably stuck in what comes next. Enjoy!

It is a blessing that perceptions and attitudes are changing. Change is good and very necessary as I’ve touched upon in “who moved my cheese? Resilience in a fast changing world”. I’m honoured that EVAQ8 is included in this year’s #30days30ways UK campaign raising awareness for emergency preparedness nationwide and further afield.

Today we are talking about

SHELTER-IN-PLACE: what is it and why do we need to think about it?

Well, let me take you back in time a couple of years while you are SIPping comfortably. You may remember seeing this:

Headline words such as ‘apocalypse’ and ‘prepper’ immediately peak interest, triggering (very mild) anxiety and ridicule, usually in that order and in quick succession; so fast actually that you won’t necessarily even be aware of it. This is what the media does, churn out a quick headline grabbing story, poke fun and onto the next news cycle.  A google news search on the topic will quickly reveal that this treatment is pretty ‘standard’. Humour is a coping mechanism (as the ‘psychology minded’ of you out there will know) and an excellent motivator which, in my opinion, should be harnessed positively rather than used to judge people and the choices they make (or are forced to take).

‘Prepper’ is a stereotype. We must look deeper.

There is no fixed definition of what exactly a ‘prepper’ is or does. Rather, ‘prepping’ or simply ‘being prepared’ ranges from wilderness survivalists to keeping several days emergency supplies at home such as long shelf-life food, water purification, first aid etc.

Reality is, most of us live in an urban environment far away from any real wilderness.

If you already have extra food supplies you can cook and eat without access to utilities such as power or water, own a good first aid kit, a radio and a decent torch (preferably wind-up)  then you qualify and can call yourself a prepper, if you like. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. How people label themselves are complex and interesting matters. Because of media and film hype the term tends to set off the imagination in perhaps more extreme, fantasy directions. I prefer to keep it real, simple and every day.

 

Being prepared is simply part of who you are.

A prepper is not a ‘crazy’ person but actually someone that makes highly rational choices based on an appraisal of their situation with  knowledge of the past and a look to the future. And what exactly does that look like, the future I mean? Well, things have certainly changed since 2014 and we now must Prepare for a world that’s more than 2° C warmer.

Some big and hard questions are being asked in the wake of flooding and storms which now bear names (MetOffice storm centre). This particular strategy, like most things in life, is both good and bad. While we now can make ‘personal associations’, remember and hopefully learn – meaning: heed warnings, be better prepared – there is also the risk of triggering anxiety and even PTSD. ‘Understanding fear’ is crucial, as I wrote earlier and managing fear is a real challenge. Many turn away (self-preservation, ‘hide’) rather than face (acknowledge) and prepare for what may be coming in a balanced, rational way. Yet strong emotions, even fear can be an ally. Preparedness is the ultimate confidence builder.

Now I still haven’t talked about what SIP actually is…you still are, SIPping that is? 😉 

Shelter-in-Place is the opposite of running away

…or evacuate using the proper term. Shelter-in-place happens when you cannot or should not run away, then you shelter-in-place. It’s controlled. It’s planned. Unlike ‘hide’.

Shelter-in-Place: climate change, accidents, security

Not necessarily in that order but that’s what it’s all about. An extreme example I’ve already shown you above, in the first guardian tweet. That was about Sam Notaro who saw himself forced to build his own flood defences to protect his family and property, a four-bedroom home in Moorland, Somerset. Other examples include the emergency services asking you to close your windows and await the all clear. It happens all the time, for example, recently….

They don’t call it SIP aka ‘shelter-in-place’ simply because it’s usually not serious enough and does not last long enough which means you don’t have to seal your windows and air ducts and ‘hide/hold out’ for many hours or days.

Shelter-in-Place can also be a consequence of a security lock-down.

Just what exactly a so called “invacuation” is I talk about in what are invacuation, lock-down and shelter-in-place and how do they link to emergency preparedness? This also highlights that, fundamentally, preparedness is for also for business, not just for individuals and that it must cover both evacuation and shelter-in-place. Actually preparedness must include everyone, the old, the very young, the vulnerable and even your pets! Yes, we also have a special page for preparedness with pets and we are involved in community resilience projects which you can read about more here if you’re interested. But let’s talk practical.

What exactly does SHELTER-IN-PLACE preparedness actually look like?

It’s simple. You can count it out on both your hands. It’s all about the 5 preparedness principles and 5 core areas, the gist of which is:  you need to cover

  • 1 food & food preparation (meals-ready-to-eat, water purification)
  • 2 tools & personal protection (multi-tools, gaffa tape, ffp masks…)
  • 3 shelter & warmth (emergency blankets, sleeping bags…)
  • 4 light & communication (torches, flashing lights, radio, comms…)
  • 5 first aid & hygiene

 

so that you can do.. (and at the end will get)

  • 1 prioritise
  • 2 plan
  • 3 prepare
  • 4 practise
  • 5 peace of mind

 

Shelter-in-place: GET A KIT. MAKE A PLAN. BE PREPARED.

Look around our website; right side navigation for more blog, top navigation for kit. We source the best products on the market and test them so that you can rely on them in a real emergency. If you don’t find exactly what you want, our speciality is bespoke kits, examples of which you can find here.

So that’s about it. Have you finished SIPping?

What? No easy tick list to print out and start with I hear you ask?

Well, yes and no, because I’m a little ambivalent about easy short cuts and all for motivating and empowering people. You see, only you really know what you need to be better prepared. You are the only one who best knows your situation and circumstances and what you are comfortable with. No simplistic tick list can really get there properly.

Only you can, with a little extremely worthwhile effort.

But we help. Actually there is a lot of help out there and a good place to start is to first check the website of your local resilience forum which you can also find referenced in our (evolving) directory Ready for Emergencies.  In addition we offer a comprehensive free Emergency Plan download and lots of other useful stuff which you can access right from our preparedness hub page. This includes our newest awareness raising video, put together for us by the dedicated Warwickshire/ Worcestershire man, Ian MacDonald Walker (@sonetimage6 ). 

Now it’s your turn: #SHELTERINPLACE challenge

For today, day 7 of the #30days30waysUK campaign, we simply would like you to do one thing so that YOU are better prepared and which also HELPS US ALL to raise awareness for emergency preparedness:

Start making your own 72+ hour SHELTER IN PLACE kit, take a picture + share

  • Go through your stores at home and start making your 72+ hour shelter-in-place kit for all the members in your household, covering the 5 core areas
  • All chosen items must be in good working order and have a shelf life of minimum one year, preferably longer
  • Add special items for children and elders, include your pet(s)
  •  Take a picture and share it with the hashtags  #30days30waysUK  #ShelterInPlace  before securely boxing or bagging your kit

Remember to mark the earliest expiry date in your calendar to check and replace items. Keep your kit updated.

CONGRATULATIONS you are now better prepared! :-)

If you work for or own a small business, start a contingency kit and business continuity plan for business preparedness and share as above.

Now before I go. Thank you! Thank you LRF Emergency Planners for including us and thank YOU for reading and listening. We all face an unknown future and must be willing to be brave, face what is coming and work together. No one is ever alone in a real emergency and disaster. Capacities and capabilities build resilience, and we must keep it positive and empowering with a sense of humour. Which, finally, brings me to Harry Barker (@go_artmonkey) in Manchester. Thank you for the brilliant cartoon finale. 

Don’t be scared – BE PREPARED!

Monika – I look forward to seeing you around at #30days30waysUKPreparedness is for everyoneFor more on practical Emergency and Disaster Preparedness head over to our FREE resources at the Preparedness Hub. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Thank you!

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School Preparedness and Resilience in Exam Time

SchoolExamstock image dreamstime_xs_52589783 time is upon us again.

Lots of stressed out teenagers sat at small desks in gyms and halls across the country feeling like every word they write will determine the course of the rest of their life.

But what does exam time mean in terms of preparedness and resilience?

Well it changes how we do our business quite significantly.  All of a sudden we have a whole new set of considerations we need to plan for.

Firstly we have mixed up our usual peer groups so we need to be accounting for them differently in the event of an evacuation, like for a fire alarm.  All our usual assembly areas will have changed too so any rehearsals or drills we have previously carried out are now void.  It may be that we should consider adding an evacuation brief to the normal exam preamble about not talking and being escorted to the loos.

Next we only have one set of the relevant exam papers which we open on the day of the exam when we hand them out.  What do we do if they are damaged or destroyed?

We are also probably using different facilities.  We love to put them all in the gym or the hall where we can keep an eye on them at once, and we need less invigilators that way.  But what do we do if we can’t use that facility.  Do we have a plan to use other classrooms?  If they are en-bloc to the hall or gym they might be unavailable too.  But the exam has to happen at that date and time to prevent cheating!  What are we going to do?  Now we are in multiple smaller classrooms rather than one big hall we need more invigilators, who are they and how will we get hold of them?

Beyond ‘logistics’: building reputation management and psychosocial resilience

What about our reputation?  What does it say about us if we get this wrong?  A good friend of mine always says “Just imagine the headline”.  As a professional organisation we have to get this right.  Relations between students, parents and school can be a challenge at the best of times.  Not to mention maintaining our image in the community.  Every crisis is actually an opportunity.  Managing any disruptions during exam time will really set us above the pack!

Finally what about our consideration of psychosocial resilience.  Our young people are going through what is probably the most stressful experience they have ever had in their lives to date.  ChildLine and the Samaritans always report a significant spike in calls from young people at this time of year.  A recent survey by ChildLine said that a worrying 64% of their 1300 respondents stated they have never received any support in dealing with exams.  Even more worryingly these same respondents said they dealt with exam stress by smoking, taking drugs and self-harming.  Sadly, for some it is all too much and results suicide.  We should be looking to the psychosocial welfare of everyone in our school communities, but we should be making even more efforts during exam time.

What we need is a set of contingency plans specifically for exam time that sit as part of our Crisis and Continuity planning.  The young people sitting these exams are suffering from enough stress without the uncertainty of being unable to actually sit their exam or have it disrupted.  They are the future after all and we have a duty to give them the best support we can.

Ben O’Toole

This article was written before the latest headline hit Bomb threats across UK schools on GCSE exam day as caller vows to ‘behead children’ For more information on practical tools for school preparedness and resilience visit evaq8.co.uk/schools

What are “invacuation”, “lock-down” and “shelter-in-place”? How do they link to emergency preparedness and why is that important for business?

updated 12/09/2016
Invacuation_EVAQ8-shelter-in-placeOften there is confusion about what  these, sometimes interchangeable, terms mean. Perhaps this is because the typical safety procedure everyone in the UK is most familiar with is to evacuate – the standard ‘get out – stay out – call 999’ advice of fire safety.  In contrast, staying in when ‘all hell breaks loose’ is counter-intuitive at first, especially for commercial or public premises. However, ‘getting out’ is neither possible nor wise in a number of scenarios as will be explored shortly in the wider sphere of workplace emergency preparedness; but first things first, a quick look at the terminology:

 “in-vacuation is probably the least known term but once you understand the meaning as ‘inverse evacuation’ you will always remember this wordplay on opposites

“lock-down” refers to an emergency protocol to prevent people (or information) from escaping and typically involves some form of violence.  Lock-down examples in the news typically concern bomb threats or attacks, especially in crowded places such as at sports events, theatres, shopping centres or schools.

“shelter-in-place” in the UK is mostly understood in two quite specific ways, both rooted in fire safety:

  • “go in – stay in – tune in”, the ‘classic’ shelter-in-place order issued by the emergency services. Typically, this may happen during a major incident such as a large fire, hazmat or security incident.  It means that you have to close (and seal, depending on the severity of the incident) all doors, windows (and vents) to create a contamination free space. Take immediate shelter in a readily accessible safe location and await further instructions. Stay well away from window panes that may shatter and cause injuries
  • specialist measures to provide safe shelter and security from hazards to vulnerable persons that may have difficulty to evacuate such as wheelchair users, the elderly or persons with disabilities

There is much more to Shelter-in-Place and it certainly applies to more than just firesafety. Have a look at the following post SIP: SHELTER-IN-PLACE | September is Preparedness Month.

Since the tragic events in Paris and while UK threat levels remain SEVERE, understandings are now expanding beyond fire safety into emergency preparedness for all persons and at all levels. That includes business, especially if located at or near crowded places. The recent “Run – Hide – Tell” safety video from the National Counter Terrorism Security Office is an excellent example which reflects this.

Why “shelter-in-place”, where and how?

‘Hiding’, or hopefully a more controlled, planned and prepared emergency procedure such as  ‘shelter-in-place’ protocols are not only about terror threats such as lone shooter incidents or a firearms and weapons attack as in the above NaCTSO video. Shelter-in-place is highly relevant for a range of scenarios which, broadly, can be divided into ‘man-made threats’ and ‘natural hazards.

Shelter-in place or invacuation rather than evacuation makes sense not only for threats

  • explosion, structural damage
  • hazardous materials (HAZMAT, i.e. biological, chemical …)
  • attack with weapons and/or firearms, bomb threat, drones
  • civil unrest, riot

but also for natural hazards such as storms and severe weather, severe cold or heatwave, during an earthquake, pandemic or , most relevant for the UK, flooding which destroys more businesses than fire. So, what does an ideal shelter-in-place room look like?

 

Shelter-in-place: rooms above ground floor, for example …

  • interior rooms with no windows  and/or
  • exterior rooms with loadbearing walls, few windows and vents that can be sealed
  • adequate space to sit people, avoid overcrowding by selecting several rooms
  • feature fire doors and a way to barricade yourself in may provide additional safety

Utility rooms, large storage rooms, pantries, conference rooms etc. may work well as designated shelter-in-place areas. In addition

  • install a landline telephone in the room to call for help, mobile phones may be overwhelmed
  • mark the room(s) with a ‘shelter-in-place’ sign on the inside of the room only for security reasons and assure your safety personnel and staff are well trained (download free shelter-in-place sign to print)
  • strategically place preparedness supplies; i.e. emergency food and water, light & communication etc.

 

Shelter-in-place procedure – emergency plan

Specific procedures for shelter-in-place vary depending on the nature of the environment, anticipated and planned for threats and typically include:

  • close the premises
  • inform staff, customers and visitors to stay, not leave and go to designated areas immediately
  • do not walk or drive outdoors
  • ask all people present to turn their phones to silent and call their emergency contact to let them know where they are and that they are safe unless there is an imminent severe threat where silence must be observed
  • turn on business call-forwarding or alternative telephone systems. If you have voicemail, change the recording to indicate that you are temporarily closed, that staff and visitors are safe and will remain in the building until authorities have issued the all clear
  • lock (and seal) air vents, doors, windows;  draw shades, blinds or curtains in case of an explosion
  • turn off or disable fans, heating and air conditioning as well as all other non-essential electricals
  • get hold of your emergency supplies and go to your previously identified shelter-in place area

Ideally, on each floor you will have access to an emergency grab bag, individual One-Person-Compact-Survival-Kits for staff as well as a Shelter-in-Place Kit for up to 20 persons in each shelter-in-place location. While this is perhaps not possible everywhere, absolute minimum supplies include battery powered or wind-up radio (communication), flashlight and/or headtorch, first aid, long-life food and water. Also recommended are waterproof gaffa tape and either plastic sheeting or garbage bags that can be cut and taped to provide emergency seals.

Once securely at your shelter-in-place location

  • keep calm, stay behind solid objects well away from glass
  • place signs in exterior windows to identify your location where possible
  • make list of everyone in the room, their address and affiliation with your business (employee, visitor, customer…) and then call your designated emergency contact to report
  • listen to radio, watch TV or use the internet to stay informed
  • await further instructions until the all clear is given and it is safe to stand down

 

Shelter-in-place is usually resolved quickly but may last for several hours or even days.  To find out which risks are most pertinent to you see the National Risk Register  and the local risk register published by your Local Resilience Forum.  You may also find our google slides “Shelter-in-Place at work” useful for your own Emergency Preparedness.

Security, health & safety and duty of care are just some of the reasons why it makes sense to be prepared. Make appropriate plans and get the emergency kit that is right for you. If none of our standard emergency kits are suitable, simply contact us for a competitive bespoke quote. Our friendly and knowledgeable team is always happy to help and advice.

Finally, check out Protecting Crowded Places from Terrorism resources and also  ‘Project Griffin’ which provides briefing events to increase public and staff awareness to business of how best to reduce and respond to the most likely types of terrorist activities. And finally, if you’re a reading this

Monika

Thank you for stopping by. For more resilience blog use the right hand navigation. For kit and practical resources use the top navigation. If you’re new to Emergency and Disaster Preparedness head over to our FREE resources at the Preparedness Hub.

This blog post is also accessed by http://bit.ly/lock-down. Thank you for sharing    

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Building Community Resilience – one UK school at a time | open letter to Primary and Secondary School Headmasters

Since 2005 we have been at the forefront in championing School Emergency and Disaster Preparedness in the United Kingdom. To raise awareness and promote affordable solutions such as best practice School Resilience Package and School Emergency Grab Bags our mail campaign is here now also reproduced for wider dissemination.

Threats to Schools | best practice Emergency Management and Business Continuity

Dear Headmaster

Recent major incidents both natural (i.e. storms Desmond, Eva and Frank) and man-made (bomb threats to UK schools at home and abroad) have once again highlighted the urgent need for schools to be better prepared.

SEMP templates are problematic. Freely available templates may appear a ready solution. However, in practice they do not hold up for three main reasons:

  • not sensitive to the needs of individual schools
  • tricky and time-consuming to assemble
  • do not comply with recognized best practise standards such as existing ISO or British Standars which means a lack of robustness

Affordable solution

School Resilience Package to ISO and British Standards & School Emergency Grab Bags following NaCTSO guidelines.

For full details please visit evaq8.co.uk/schools

EVAQ8 Ltd has been at the forefront of championing School Emergency and Disaster Preparedness in the UK since 2005. As the UK’s Emergency Preparedness specialist, we look forward to being of service in all aspects of your school’s practical Emergency and Business Continuity Management to further your community’s resilience.

School Emergency Planning & Exercise - Preparedness = Resilient Communities

School Emergency Planning & Exercise | Preparedness = Resilient Communities

 

Zika Virus Outbreak – Travel Health – what you need to know to be better prepared and minimize exposure

The WHO has just declared an international emergency in response to the emergence of the zika virus

The race to understand Zika link to baby microcepahly is on yet the fear is that for those threatened by Zika, vaccines may not come soon enough. Brazil has warned pregnant women to avoid the Olympics and Public Health England is advising to consider delaying travel to countries with ongoing Zika outbreaks. The list of affected countries is unfortunately expanding fast …

… and climate change may affect the spread; considering trade and travel, this may well extend beyond current projections such as

How can I protect myself from Zika?

Short answer: no mosquito bite – no Zika.

Follow these simple yet effective steps when travelling to minimize exposure

You may also want to read the latest developments with regards to Zika virus being sexually transmitted; i.e. Reuters on WHO calls for further investigation into sexual spread of Zika virus.

With regards to Business Continuity and potential impacts to the economy of regions affected by Zika, read Prof Geraint Johnes’ (Lancaster University) illuminating article The human cost of Zika is clear, but will Brazil’s economy suffer too? drawing comparisons to recent SARS outbreaks affecting Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and China.

Monika

Thank you for stopping by. For more on practical Emergency+Disaster Preparedness head over to our FREE resources at the Preparedness Hub. Thank you for sharing #travelhealth #preparedness   

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Preparedness: 5 Principles now join with 5 Practical Core Areas: the ‘new’ 5Ps + 5Cs for a resilient tomorrow

dehydratedWaterNo, I’m not going to sell you anything like this latest product ‘dehydrated water’ so that your tomorrow may be worry free. Sorry.

And you’re not the only one with raised eyebrows at this point but do join those of the ‘old school’ even if they declare my maths is off: they are thinking of the 7 P’s concept from the military which stands for “Prior, Proper, Planning, Prevents, Piss, Poor, Performance”.

My maths is not off I assure you. Tongue firmly in cheek I squarely blame it on the austerity cuts 😉 for there is now a modern, leaner and perhaps more elegant version that can be counted down on just one hand.

The ‘new’ 5P’s: prioritize, plan, prepare, practice, peace of mind

Prioritize: what types of disasters are you planning for? Differentiate risks and hazards and make a scenario list

Plan: do what, where, when and how? Make your emergency & disaster preparedness plan, don’t let it accumulate dust.

Prepare: the right tools in the right place for the right people – if you add ‘at the right time’ then I’d counter ‘well before the right time’ – bounce ahead to make bouncing back a breeze (What disaster – Why Preparedness? and Prepare for a world that’s more than 2° C warmer)

Practice: head stuff is great but legwork is even better

Peace of mind: do the above and WYDIWYG – what you do is what you get, a form of WYSIWYG or what you see is what you get; one not just only for the geeks :-)

 

Now, principles are  good, tremendously useful actually but still not quite good enough – another so called  ‘Goldilocks’ case where we really want ‘just right’ . So, we need to expand it just a little more. After all

it’s all about Emergency Preparedness Capabilities and Capacities

…being able to perform and achieve and having the right tools in place to do so.

So, enter the 5C’s to complement the 5P’s. Initially conceptualized to run on facebook as part of this year’s “September is Preparedness Month” campaign contribution we have honed in on the five preparedness core areas to complement the 5P’s you’re now already familiar with. They are:

5Ps5Cs_expanded

Food & Food Preparation: MRE (meal’s ready to eat, military style – they know what they’re doing!) yummie quality calories mean fuel so that body and mind can continue to function, water purification provides safe water to drink and prepare food.

 

Tools & Personal Protection: depends on skill set (or lack thereof), nature and level of threat and location; see Survival Tools; PPE – especially respiratory masks.

 

Shelter & Warmth: a core temperature drop of just 1C can mean hypothermia. Eating and moving provide warmth but rest is inevitable; insulation via Emergency Blankets, Sleeping Bags, Tents and Beds.

 

Light & Communication: human vision (optical) is seriously compromised in low light conditions. Torches, hands-free head-torches, battery free wind-up torches, rechargeable lights... you get the idea. Flashing lights and lightsticks attract and can signal for help or serve as warning to indicate danger.

 

First Aid & Hygiene: vastly depends on skill; the former that is, not the latter. No use having a suture kit if you only know cross stitch but you it’s difficult to overdo the soap. You can also never have enough clean bandages as a field medic friend reliably tells me so here at least you can and should go all out; First Aid; Hygiene and also useful are Travel Accessories i.e. camp shower and folding toilet.

 

Ok, so now you’ve got your 5P’s and 5C’s – or at least our informed version of it. But what does that actually mean? Well, I wish I knew who was behind this guest post titled The Six P’s and the Three S’s of Prepping for this person, clearly coming from a solid old school prepper background has an excellent and modern insight – although I may take issue with his or her maths 😉

I hope I made you smile – and think. Happy Monday.

Monika

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Prepare for a world that’s more than 2° C warmer | Climate Change

updated 28Sep2016

That’s the UN’s most recent analysis. The world – us – will have emitted enough carbon to warm the planet by 2°C  by the year 2036, that’s just 20 years down the road!

“I think it is clear [the targets] will fall well short of what is required for any reasonable probability of avoiding 2° C”

So says Alice Bows-Larkin, Professor in Climate Science & Energy Policy of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Manchester UK as quoted in The New Scientist edition No 3046 of 7 November 2015 I’m reading this Remembrance Sunday (italics added by me; read the extended article online at The climate fact no one will admit: 2 °C warming is inevitable).

Barring any sudden personal tragedies or the ability to resettle on a different planet, this will impact us all: me, my family and friends as well as you, your family and friends.

What will a world be like with ‘just’ 2°C extra heat  – do we actually know?

I’ve heard people joke that they are looking forward to warmer and sunnier days. Well, now that would be lovely indeed, especially if you live quite far north (or south). Joke aside; it is actually an interesting reaction and not necessarily one born out of simple ignorance. For example, Freudian’s would point and say: classic denial, one of the most primitive defence mechanisms, a refusal to accept reality to avoid painful feelings. Cognitive psychologists would describe it i.e. as optimism bias and/or discounting, limitations on our rational cognitive processes  (i.e. see earlier post Resilience and Preparedness Roadblocks: what stops us?) It’s probably a bit of all of the above plus a good sprinkling of individual beliefs, personal experiences and personality.

Reality is, however that we will be getting more than just warmer and sunnier days. The crux of the problem is, nobody really knows just exactly what it all means. Climate change is one of the most urgent and profoundly complex challenges we face.

Better and better models – but we are really running out of time

Vast amounts of data feed numerous models every day (i.e. MetOffice) yet in the end they are just that: models, an approximation to reality.

At best, models attempt to explain and hopefully predict the future. How accurately? Well, that remains to be seen. The ukclimateprojections.metoffice data and projections many still use may well be outdated (2009 PDF) because they assume ‘medium’ emission scenarios.

A 2°C warmer world – some reasonable predictions: heatwaves and flooding

Warmer means more heatwaves

 

Serious Climate Change Problem: how to stay cool

Running air conditioners is the short-sighted answer. This is problematic not just because of guzzling energy which may overload the grid but also because it creates and dumps a lot of hot exhaust, adding to the problem rather than reducing it. Where we currently stand with producing not only efficient but also sustainable air conditioning systems is somewhat unclear(see The Guardian). Spraying or dousing heat stressed people with water only works to some extent as Dr Sundeep Dhillon recently explained at the Extreme Medicine Expo,  personal factors such as fitness and acclimatization status play a huge role. Treating heat illness will increasingly become a hot topic very soon. Undoubtedly we will see more of this:     

Warmer also means more flooding because of more severe weather events. There is a very good chance that the weather will not play by ‘our rules’ as per our models. Exceptional may well become the new normal which means more of this:

Yemen just this week, twice in quick succession:

Cape Verde in late August / early September

Flooding also happens because of rising sea levels. Thermostatic expansion, a volume and height increase as sea water warms plays a role as does melting ice. Some recent predictions are dire for coastal cities such as San Francisco:

Image from Coastal News Today, an well respected publication.

Models and projections while essential, don’t necessarily provide solutions. Models don’t’ fix.

Engineering, although playing a hugely important role to i.e. retrofitting, reinforcing and saving infrastructure, building in more resilient ways for the future, can also be problematic as The Rockefeller Foundation recently highlighted:

We need more than just design solutions, however. We also will need real alternatives to insurance for while a 2°C World Might Be Insurable, A 4°C World Certainly Would Not Be and we are heading there fast. We need a change in attitudes. We need a sense that we individually can really do something, change behavior, change culture and change our world for the better.  It means a serious interest and investment in disaster risk reduction. At the most fundamental level,  it all starts with prepared individuals that can achieve realistic confidence in the face of crisis.

So, what is your Emergency & Disaster Preparedness Plan? Check our free resources and look through some of the earlier posts here.

Have a great week.

Monika  

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also available in high resolution at the CCC.org

Why template School Emergency Plans do not add up

Back in 2004 the Civil Contingencies Act was born.  This obliged the myriad Local Authorities around the country to start planning in earnest for issues which could occur in their area, and for the most part they are doing a good job.  There is an obligation placed on the Local Authorities to “…assess, plan and advise…”  Due to this Local Authorities felt an obligation to their Local Education Authorities and put together something for the schools in their area to use.

This is where things started to go awry.  A quick google search will turn up a myriad of template plans from various Local Authorities.  When one delves into the Document properties it becomes obvious that

there are really only two plans out there

One produced by Nottingham County Council and one from Manchester City Council.  Both of them were produced around the same time 2011/2012.  They were both creditable attempts of dealing with the issue at the time.

Now however, things have moved on.  When the two plans were produced the big buzzword in emergency planning was continuity.  This was a discipline which fell out of the business arena and dealt with still being able to maintain a product or a service during a disruption.  Quite a cottage industry has grown up around this along with overly costly and complex ISO certification.

Now Business Continuity is no longer viewed as being the be all and end all, but rather one part of the solution.

The two templates were understandably continuity heavy.  Sadly they were not in depth enough to be considered as compliant with ISO 22301 which is the International Standard for Business Continuity.  In fact

in one of the plans around 85% of the mandated content is missing.

This therefore presents Local Education Authorities with somewhat of a conundrum.  One that most of them are blithely oblivious of.  Every year schools within the public sector are obliged to be audited against the School Financial Value Standard.  This is a series of questions which seeks to ascertain whether public money is being responsibly used.  Question 25 of this document states:

Does the school have an appropriate business continuity or disaster recovery plan, including an up-to-date asset register and adequate insurance?”

Given how these templates stack up against ISO 22301 the answer should surely be no.

However, time and again this box gets ticked off due to the presence of one of these templates.  The situation is that the Local Authority is auditing itself against a document which they have produced and not had externally verified.  I cannot say that this sounds like a well-executed audit of how public money is being spent.

So let us delve further.  In 2014 BS 65000:2014 Guidance on oganizational (sic) resilience was published.  This document fundamentally reassessed how organisations should prepared for and deal with emergencies.  This document divides this into three fundamental areas.  Firstly risk assessment.  BS 65000:2014 is explicit in its guidance that all emergency planning should be threat based.  Risks are to be identified, recorded and managed.  For me this is the most fundamental part of any emergency planning.  How can you plan for things if you do not know what they are?

The second area is that of Crisis Management.  This is the “what do I do right now?” part of dealing with an emergency.  This particular discipline has been around for a while now.  Private sector organisations have become very aware that dealing with the immediate effects of an incident will reduce the impact on them, reduce the financial cost, reduce reputational damage and make recovery to normal a much speedier process.  Last year BS 11200:2014 Crisis Management – Guidance and good practice was published.  This document formalised an area which has been quietly growing in importance and complexity over the past ten years.

The third area is Business Continuity.  This is the part which should be the most comprehensive given that this is the most mature.  Here we are dealing with “how do I maintain delivery through a disruption and how do I return to normal?”  This area has been detailed for quite some time as an International Standard.  ISO 22301:2014 is the latest incarnation.  However, if you have 22301:2013 don’t rush out to buy the update, I did only to find that the only change was the year.

So far I have dealt with why templates do not work in terms of benchmarking against British and International Standards.  I now want to deal with

other reasons why one should not use a template

Firstly everywhere is different.  This may sound trite but one size does not fit all.

Ok the cartoon is referring to standardised testing but you get the idea.  We can all go to a high street store and buy a medium sized shirt.  It’ll fit ok but never as well as if you had had it made for you.  A resilience strategy is just the same.  Different organisations will have different risk thresholds; different thresholds for how much service they want to maintain; and different risks which affect them.  For a strategy or response to be the best response it can be it must be unique to that organisation.

Secondly the people filling in the templates lack the competency to do so.  This is not to slur those working in the various schools around the country, they do a very hard job and should be commended for it.  They are not, however, emergency and resilience practitioners.

Without a full understanding of risk assessment and management, crisis management and business continuity someone filling in a template can never create a document which lives up to its fullest potential.

Thirdly, it is lazy.  Yes this is a strong thing to say, but I stand by it.  These templates are being passed all over the country and are not being checked against the very clear and detailed British and International Standards by the individuals and organisations who are supposed to be the subject matter experts.  I even saw one in place in a school in the south of England which said that the grab bag should contain a Manchester A to Z!  Frankly this idleness on the part of those distributing these documents is endangering lives.  There is a very strong culture of “good enough” which permeates through the whole of our society and frankly it is pushing us all into a national mediocrity.

Finally, it is

leaving key individuals open to prosecution and litigation

A casual glance at any kind of social media will demonstrate that as soon as something happens people immediately reach for their mobile phone and start recording it.  Every response we make in a situation is recorded.  As such it must be justified by being in tune with current best practice.  This is leaving organisational heads in danger of prosecution and civil litigation.  It won’t be the people passing out these templates who end up in the dock, it will be the headteachers.

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