UK Emergency Preparedness: hygiene and emergency sanitation

So, you have hygiene covered in your emergency grab bag and your shelter-in-place kit.  You know about water purification and can tick all those boxes in your personal emergency preparedness plan. That’s great …. but actually not quite good enough aka not quite right, a familiar ‘Goldilocks’ reference for those that are regular visitors to this blog.

Let’s take a closer look. Hygiene and sanitation during emergencies or disasters have been in the news (again!) lately. Abigail Brown asks the right question:

.. and here is why this is important: flood waters carry and then deposit dangerous bacteria and toxic chemicals

tragically, for some, these problem can seem never ending and, unbelievably, it’s not just a developing world problem

https://twitter.com/ALT_uscis/status/907807813476515842

Contamination raises very serious concerns:

Now you may think these things don’t happen ‘at home’ here in the UK. Cholera (and typhoid, dysentery, diarrhea…illnesses from molds)  is a threat of the past in the UK you may say. In that case I recommend you take a closer look at Cholera and the Thames so brilliantly put together by Westminster Archives with the help of interns and volunteers.  Back when and I quote “Bazalgette’s foresight provided a sewage system that has served London well up to now. Today, however, the system is struggling to cope with the demands of 21st century London.” And that’s in good times, not during an emergency or disaster such as security threats, serious storms and flooding.

Listen to Mary Dhonau, she has been there, she knows:

Now, while the best sanitation system does not exist (do explore that link!) it does not mean that household preparedness is powerless. On the contrary. It is crucial that households are better prepared precisely so that there is less of an overall impact when an emergency or disaster occurs.

Household preparedness for emergency sanitation is easy

US Homeland Security News has some of the best advice online while the CDC compares immediate term sanitation solutions. In summary:

  • water flush toilets cannot be used when water service is interrupted
  • do not flush toilets or dig holes; untreated raw sewage is a serious health hazard
  • store a large supply of different size heavy-duty plastic bags (min 1 bag per person per day), disinfectant, toilet paper
  • consider portable camp toilets, small trashcans or sturdy buckets with tight fitting lids lined with heavy duty plastic bags are an alternative
  • safe disposal; wait for collections and/or instructions of the authorities

All the above applies during emergencies and disasters but also in their aftermath. Recovery can take (a lot of!) time depending on the severity. Cleaning up safely is hugely important and will be covered in another blog. For now I wanted to share this tweet from the NYtimes which has a useful summary so check out their article and further resources links:

Why am I writing about all this? Well, because from where I stand I see UK households woefully unprepared and that’s why the topic ‘hygiene’ in this year’s 30days30waysUK campaign #prep2017day20 has been expanded to include emergency sanitation for household preparedness.

September is Preparedness Month is now in full swing. 30days30waysUK is a brilliant FREE campaign on twitter and facebook you can join anytime. Check it out!

Be #prepared – not scared:  #WinterReady

Have a great week!

Be prepared, not scared.

Monika
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Emergency Preparedness and Food Safety in the UK

The last thing you need after an emergency such as severe weather and flooding which has knocked out your power supply is food poisoning.  Knowing what to do before, during and after a powercut, brownout or blackout is important to avoid potentially serious health problems.

Food Safety in an Emergency: it’s all about time and temperature control

Know your numbers for safe food:

  • +5C fridge setting or less to keep food cool (40F)
  • -18C freezer setting or less to keep food frozen (0F)
  • 2 days  = max time food stays frozen in a well-stocked , unopened freezer
  • 4 hours = max time food stays cold in a well-stocked, unopened fridge

Importantly, not all spoiled food will look or smell bad. So, after 4 hours of power outage, transfer foods that spoil faster into a cooler with ice and keep under 5C: meat, dairy, cheese.

source USDA | https://i.pinimg.com/736x/7f/9a/40/7f9a404591149d829b7e282b65690b14--power-outage-food-safety.jpg

Food Safety in an Emergency: what to keep and what to throw out

Thankfully, power cuts are usually quickly resolved but when they’re not, your fridge is your week point. Remember to transfer your fridge food after 4 hours of power outage to an ice cooler and keep it under 5C . Your food safety rule of thumb: when in doubt, throw it out.  Food poisoning, while usually not life threatening, is nevertheless seriously unpleasant.

You can keep frozen food that are still icy and uncooked fruit and vegetable. After more than 2 hours at room temperature throw out: meat, soft cheese, opened sauces, leftovers, sliced fruit and vegetables, cooked fruit and vegetables. Remember, not all spoiled food looks or smells bad. When in doubt – throw it out!

WATCH  FDA’s video Food Safety during Power Outages

 

Another good video is from Canada, with Chef Geremy Capone from  ELLICSR Kitchen

 

Preparedness, including food safety, are big topics in the US as these two tweets leading up to and during Hurricane Irma show

 

 

In the UK, food safety information is somewhat more thin on the ground especially with regards to preparedness. However, the good news is that Food Safety guidance aimed at catering business is easily adaptable to household preparedness. For example, check out the Food Standard Agencys’ page How chilled is your food, safer food better business and their food alerts.

In the US, there is a dedicated number to call in emergencies.

As far as I’m aware, that kind of service is not yet available in the UK. Like with so much about preparedness, there is much that yet needs to be done all around. And this leads me to ask: do you know about #30days30waysUK? It’s a month long campaign each September to boost personal preparedness and resilience. Day 19 (#prep2017day19) is about food safety. Follow @30days30waysUK and take part. And finally, check out our info pages on UK Food Security and Emergency and Survival Food.

Be prepared, not scared.

Monika
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Emergency preparedness for individuals: what you must plan and prepare for

source http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/images/sdsgypsytweet.jpg

No-one can predict the future accurately.
But we all can plan and prepare for it.

Getting better prepared and creating networks of support that build community resilience are crucial so that it does NOT end up as a case of aid versus preparedness as I wrote earlier.

So, what is it then that you must plan and prepare for?

Different emergencies or disasters call for different responses. Some of these are tackled in our scenarios at the preparedness hub. However, what sometimes gets overlooked this way is that there are common threads running through all of these. It has to do with consequences rather than with causes of emergencies and disasters and that is a good way to talk about preparedness, especially to people that are new to the topic. So, what it all boils down to is that you must …

be prepared for:  delays in getting help

It’s not that the emergency services don’t want to get to you in a disaster but the same things that stop you also affect them: road closures, lack of communication, severe weather conditions … not to mention the many people that will want assistance all at the same time.

The emergency services and local authorities are mandated by law to serve, survey and respond over an entire area and provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Naturally, they cannot get to everyone right away so there will be a delay in help. That is why you need to be able to take care of yourself at least for some time.

There is a lot you can do for self-reliance and to get better prepared. The general recommendation is to stock a minimum of three days, or in other words 72 hours’ worth of supplies,  essentially non-perishable food, clean water and medications to shelter-in-place as well as an emergency grab bag for safe evacuation. What that looks like, check out our blog series on safe evacuation; especially ‘mass’ evacuation and why ‘self’ evacuation preparedness makes a lot of sense.

With this, you’re off to a great start but keep in mind that the more you prepare and get equipped the better off you will be in a real disaster or emergency. Find out more about how to build your own emergency kit and check out the survival kit list.

 

be prepared for: road closures

Flooding, landslides etc. can collapse roads and bridges and affect how you can move around with public transport and your own vehicle. Always keep a half tank of fuel in your car and spare road maps as part of your car safety kit in case GPS is disrupted and you are forced into unfamiliar areas.

In the event of a mass evacuation, be prepared for a long journey. It may well end up looking like this

 

be prepared for: power outages

Power outages mean no ATMs or cash dispensers, no petrol pumps at your gas station, your fridge/freezer stops working and food goes off (Emergency Preparedness and FoodSafety), the batteries in your phone and gadgets don’t get charged, no TV or internet …  Following on from the earlier example of the recent flash flooding in Coverack, it appears the community there knows that scenario well …

Read more about preparedness for power cuts, brown outs and black outs and also check out food security especially for communities.  

 

be prepared for: lack of clean water

Water mains bursts and flooding can mean outages and contamination of your water supply. In an emergency, shut off your supply to keep your clean water in and dirty, unsafe water out. Read more about utilities shut off safety. Your home may already have ’emergency stores’ i.e. top reservoirs of toilets, boilers, garden reservoirs etc. but keep in mind that  water purification is essential for health.

Minimum clean water supplies are usually given as 1 gallon (approx. 4.5 lt) per person per day for basic needs such as drinking, food preparation and hygiene. If you have pets, count each one as you would a person for extra reserves.

source: http://learn.eartheasy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/flood-drinking-water1.jpg

 

be prepared for: limited or no communication

Communication systems may get knocked out which means you may be unable to call for help or get information the usual way. It also means you may lose touch with loved ones. Having a communications plan and preparedness measures in place is vital. Check out our free template on the preparedness hub to get you started so that it does not come to this …

source: http://media.gettyimages.com/photos/new-orleans-united-states-a-plea-for-help-appears-on-the-roof-of-a-picture-id71757327

be prepared for: property damage

If you’re lucky, property damage is minimal which means you can shelter-in-place and ride it out. However, property damage may be extensive which means you can no longer safely stay and must evacuate and shelter elsewhere.

The most common damage to property is from fire. There is a lot you can do for better fire safety and fire preparedness. Other common property damage may result from flooding or wind. Take a look at his short video showing the impact of different wind speeds. It may be set in the tropics with palm trees but applies to other settings too.

be prepared for: living in a shelter

Living in a shelter is not like living at home. The better prepared you are the more comfortable you will be. Living in a shelter can look very different depending on circumstances and duration. You may choose to provide your own shelter by staying with loved ones, moving into a hotel or even camp outdoors. Alternatively, you may be given shelter provided by the authorities and volunteers. Often, this will look similar to this example in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower Disaster

be prepared for: a new ‘normal’ Depending on the severity of the emergency or disaster, clean-up and recovery can take a long time. In many instances lives are disrupted for extended periods of time and never get quite back to how things were before. A ‘new normal’ eventually settles in as people piece their lives back together. What that may look like for you is something you can help determine. Start planning and preparing today so that you can be better prepared tomorrow. Events like flooding are sadly the new reality as we all face and must prepare for a world that’s more than 2° C warmer.  

Be prepared, not scared. Start today for a safer and more secure tomorrow.

Monika  

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Preparedness: it’s all about capabilities and capacities

What? That sounds like a slogan and you’re right, it is. Actually, it’s a good one because it elegantly sums up what preparedness is all about. But what exactly does ‘capabilities and capacities’ actually mean, why should you care and what does it have to do with preparedness? These are excellent questions. Here is a quick explainer.

In a nutshell: capability is your ability or skill to do something and your capacity is about whether you actually have the means and tools to do so.

So, how does ‘capabilities and capacities’ apply to preparedness and why should I care?

It’s all about you and what exactly happens when you are affected by an emergency or disaster. Fact is: in a real emergency or disaster, the emergency services will respond but cannot get to everyone right away. It pays to be ready and better prepared so that you are not left entirely helpless and can respond.

Preparedness capabilities and capacities are about what YOU can do – YOUR skill set – and how well you can apply your skill set because of the tools and equipment you can access.

So, as you can see, the two concepts build on each another and come together. Thus the slogan ‘Preparedness is all about capabilities and capacities’ works pretty well. And there is more…

Preparedness is about being pro-active rather than just re-active. Another way of saying this is

Preparedness is  (the capacity and capability of) bouncing forward so that you can bounce back faster

after an emergency or disaster. It goes beyond being re-active, as for example in the RUN, TELL, HIDE advice. Sometimes you simply can’t or don’t want to do that and besides, there are many emergencies other than a weapons attack; for more along those lines see Security & Safety Update then also head to what are invacuation, lockdown and shelter-in-place and what exactly does safe self-evacuation look like? If you are involved with NGOs see Rethinking Resilience: Capacities of relief staff and volunteers in disaster zones.

But back to ‘capabilities and capacities’ and some more detail. Naturally you need real life skills such as first aid training and emergency planning for which we give you a lot of free resources at our preparedness hub.

That’s a good start but it’s actually not enough. Just imagine for a moment that you are the best trained doctor or nurse in the world but your first aid kit /emergency grab bag / crisis response kit is empty….Right, you immediately get where this is going: you need the right tools to be better prepared. Luckily you already are in the best place for just exactly that – it’s easy:

Take a look at How to build your own emergency kit and also  the Survival Kit List. If you own a business or know someone who does, explore and share Business Preparedness. Check out the many standard Emergency Kit Grab Bags listed or perhaps you are after a custom-made Emergency Kit tailored specifically to you.

Get better prepared – bounce back faster: upgrade your capabilities and capacities. Start today!

Monika

 

For more Resilience Blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For more on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness head over to our FREE resources at the Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness.

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For real-life insight into professional capabilities and capacities, take a look at the BBC’s ‘Hospital’ episode 1 season 2 | London Bridge attack victims being treated at St Mary’s Hospital Paddington.

Forgotten disasters: the 1935 London fire that sparked the world’s first 999 emergency phone line

HAPPY BIRTHDAY – the world’s first 999 emergency phone service celebrates its 80th birthday!

Something has just gone badly wrong and you pick up the phone and dial 999 in a real emergency. How simple and brilliant is that! Take a moment to actually just think about this. When you are in real need, the emergency services will respond. They save the lives of countless people every day. It’s just become ‘normal’ and so it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always so: turn back to clock to a …

Forgotten Disaster: 1935 Wimpole Street London

A fire breaks out on the ground floor at a doctor’s house in 27 Wimpole Street, Marylebone – incidentally the same address (27A) made famous in George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion (1913, characters Professor Higgins, Eliza Doolittle).

source CC: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/5c/42/43/5c424310be25d195293c5dd9a541d0aa--fire-dept-fire-department.jpgHowever, on that fateful early morning on November 10th, drama turned to tragedy when help arrived too late for those trapped in the upper rooms.  A milkman on his rounds noticed dense smoke and ran to the nearest street fire alarm, smashing the glass and pulling the alarm.  Running back he stood by helplessly as an elderly woman leaned out from the window shouting “for God’s sake get the fire brigade” before disappearing amid smoke and flames.

A neighbour attempted to dial through to the local telephone exchange and was unable to reach an operator. Eventually the fire service did arrive but sadly too late for the victims Mrs Franklin, wife of the doctor, Miss Brook her nice and a cook, a housemaid and a kitchen maid. Also remembered must be the hero of the tragedy, a fireman by the name of Leonard Tobias who carried on searching the smoke-filled building ‘long after his men had collapsed’. He was later killed in the line of duty.

Take a look at how the incident was reported in widely different ways, for example in The Spectator and on the other side of the globe in The Courier-Mail, Brisbane:

999 history SPECTATOR

999 history courier brisbane

 

But the story does not end there, thankfully.

The caller, Norman Macdonald, a dentist living in the house opposite who had been held in a queue by the Welbeck telephone exchange was so outraged that he wrote a letter to the editor of The Times1. In response to the letter and public outcry, the Government set up a committee to establish a dedicated emergency service. At the time when there were only 3 million home telephones and most people would use coin-operated red telephone boxes, the number 999 was chosen because it was easy to dial.

For a real look into what actually happens today when you dial 999, take a look at this video from Northants Emergencies

And please THINK before you dial 999

 

THANK YOU emergency services and HAPPY 8oth BIRTHDAY 999.

Monika

 

 

1. “It all started with us” The Times (archive)

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Crowded Places Guidance: Crisis Response Kit what you need to know

The latest National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) guidance recommends a CRISIS RESPONSE KIT containing the right tools to safely manage a major incident for ‘crowded places’. This includes different sectors1 as well as business such as high street shops, shopping centres, bars, clubs, restaurants, hotels, event venues, cinemas, theatres and tourist attractions.

NaCTSO writes  (emphasis added)

“The threat we face from terrorism is significant. As we have seen in the UK and across Europe attacks can happen at any time and any place without warning. Understanding the threat we all face and of the ways we can mitigate it can help keep us safer. Everyone can play a role in this effort by taking steps to help boost their protective security.”

There are legal as well as commercial reason why business should plan and prepare because of the potential of criminal prosecution and penalties under health and safety legislation2. Efforts to raise awareness for business preparedness and drive the protective security/crisis response message are well under way across the UK:

For business, or any sector listed in the NaCTSO crowded places guidance, crisis response planning means you also need a CRISIS RESPONSE KIT grab bag and a basic checklist appears on their page 156. Naturally, each sector or business is different so a ‘one size fits all’ approach is actually not really fit for purpose. That’s why we have put together a comparison list to help you make the right choices for your Business Preparedness.

Right-click on the image to open a larger version and use CTRL+ on your keyboard to magnify; a PDF is available and the list is also appears at Emergency Grab Bag: what and why.
NaCTSO Crisis Response Kit - EVAQ8 emergency grab bag comparison

 

EVAQ8.co.uk is the UK’s Emergency Preparedness specialist. We have assisted thousands of Businesses in the UK and abroad for many years to find the right practical solutions for their Business Preparedness, Business Continuity and Business Contingency planning. While you’re here take a look at standard Workplace Kits and examples of Bespoke Kits.  If you don’t find exactly what you are looking for and require Emergency Kits built to your specification simply contact us for a competitive quote.

***

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Heatwave – beyond Heat Health Watch to Personal Preparedness

What an amazingly beautiful HOT weekend we’ve just enjoyed and are promised much more to come the rest of this summer! Yet a heatwave can have quite serious consequences some of which are perhaps well less known. Mostly people talk about health effects and there is a so called Heat Health Watch, for example

 

 

With regards to national preparedness, the Heatwave plan for England kicks in every year on the 1st June and runs to mid September. But what about personal preparedness?

Heatwaves affect anyone says the British Red Cross, especially older people, children and babies and people suffering from certain chronic conditions. Yet heatwaves not only affect health.  Our Preparedness for Heatwave page explains like this tweet:

So in addition to health, you need to be better prepared for power cuts such as brownouts and blackouts. Thankfully, power is usually restored pretty quickly. However, if you suffer an extended  power cut the numbers to remember for food safety are 2 hours and 5°C. Fresh food left at above 5°C for 2 hours may spoil and in the most severe cases may lead to food poisoning. Also see guidance on refrigerated food and power outages and frozen food and power outages and check out our blog on Modern Emergency Food Storage which is ideal as preparedness measures. But enough about food! In this heat you’ll probably focus less on food but simply on how to cope in hot weather (and hopefully won’t get stuck in elevators or worse!). Dehydration symptoms can quickly sneak up on you so be aware and drink plenty of cool water even if you’re not feeling thirsty. Drinking plenty of water keeps your system going but you may still find you’re feeling uncomfortably hot, especially if like all of us you want to or have to keep active. So here is a quick cheeky fix, a bit of personal preparedness on the fly on how to stay cool

Be cool – stay cool! #prepared  :-)

Monika     .. and heatwave preparedness is for pets too:

 

 

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The Guardian 21June2017 UK heatwave brings hottest June day for 40 years

Emergency Preparedness UK: security and safety update June 2017

Wow! Two really good things happened this week for emergency preparedness, addressing both safety and security. First, the @EPCollege published @HasisD ‘s  report on what the UN Disaster Risk Reduction Sendai Framework means for (local!!) UK practitioners which really opens up the debate (PDF)

… and today, just four days after the London Bridge attack, the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) issued new official safety guidance for crowded places which includes a substantial section on personal safety.

 

In their guidance, NaCTSO writes

“No-one has more responsibility for your personal security than you.”

Naturally, security and safety go hand in hand and so in my view this statement applies across the board to include all risks, not just terrorism. Actually, the risk from terrorism, viewed objectively and rationally, plays just a very small role. Consider:

“On an average day, terrorists kill 21 people worldwide. On that same average day, natural or technological disasters kill 2,200 people – or more than 100 times as many.”

The more ‘clear and present danger’ lies elsewhere. As my earlier post Prepare for a world that’s more than 2° C warmer discusses, there is a different elephant in the room. A new study that assessed potential future climate damage to major European coastal cities projects that annual economic losses may range up to 40 billion $ by 2100 (based on worst emission scenario, which we’re heading into rather fast).   For the UK, sadly, this will continue to look more and more like this:  

So, what is to be done? Well, actually there is a lot that anyone can do. In this blog, we specifically talk about personal and community preparedness, capabilities which means skills and training and capacities which means practical tools and equipment. Key posts here to look at are:

Disaster Preparedness – what disaster, why preparedness?

Resilience and Preparedness Roadblocks: what stops us?

Community Resilience Building Blocks – it all starts with prepared individuals

Be prepared – not scared!

Monika

edit to add: also just out now is the JRF’s report: “Present and future flood vulnerability, risk and disadvantage: A UK scale assessment” This report is of particular interest to community resilience. It highlights how flood risks interact with social vulnerability across the UK to create flood disadvantage, an issue which will be exacerbated by climate change. Today some 6.4 million people live in flood prone areas, with around 1.5 million of these people living in vulnerable neighbourhoods (which include people on low incomes, with poor health and other factors that means floods are likely to have more negative impacts…

 

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UK Community Resilience: Flood Action Groups and Volunteer Major Incident Response Teams lead the way

An update on the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum NYLRF Community Resilience and Emergency Plan scheme

Back in October 2015 I first introduced you to UK Community Resilience – a brilliant example of what really works and a follow up of the project. Several seasons of storms and flooding later as well as post 2016 National Flood Resilience Review, it’s high time I update you on progress, for much has indeed happened at North Yorkshire Resilience Forum (NYLRF) to raise community resilience and get people better prepared.

The pilot project originally started with 11 trail blazing communities two years ago reaching around 22’000 people. Now take a look at how this project has grown to include all these communities:

North Yorkshire Communi Resilience map

Green means Community Emergency Plans completed and orange means Community Emergency Plans are under way. This is amazing progress! :-) The map is updated regularly and you can see it for yourself by visiting the NYLRF Community Emergency Plans page (click the black and white map there to get to the live one).

One of the communities that has been on board since the word ‘go’ is Tadcaster Flood Action Group. They have a brilliant website and are also on twitter @TadFloodGroup and  facebook so check them out.

Tadcaster Flood Action Group

Their team of dedicated volunteers simply do amazing work and have vast experience since their town was divided by the famous bridge collapse thanks to the terrible 2015 winter storms namely Storm Eva and Storm Frank.

This year, to raise awareness even further, Tadcaster Flood Action Group is planning a bi-monthly newsletter distributed via the website, email and leaflet drop at properties at risk in Tadcaster and I for one cannot wait to see their first edition. Networking and organising local evens are, naturally, also on the agenda and they work with communities such as Ulleskelf Flood Action Group, Newton Kyme and Kirby Wharfe, sharing knowledge and experience to keep communities safe from flooding and build community resilience.

Community Preparedness Kits form one important aspect of the NYLRF Emergency Plan Scheme (together with plans and training), providing tools and resources to those on the front line.

Nicola Eades from Tadcaster Flood Action Group says:

“The community resilience kit which we received has been absolutely fabulous and is a kit that we have in our central base. It simply gives the group peace of mind and a preparation tool having it to hand.”

 

Robin Derry, senior Emergency Planner at North Yorkshire and creator of the NYLRF community resilience scheme already looks ahead, saying:

“The success shown by communities such as Tadcaster is helping to promote this scheme to other communities across the county resulting in a rapid upturn in community preparedness. The added incentive of a free emergency kit is definitely a bonus.

We have a number of events planned across the coming months to promote the scheme further and long list of communities wanting to get up and running with a plan.”

 

In addition, another recent successful example, Ingleton, has been reported in the press:

Ingleton Community Emergency Preparedness Plan

 

But it does not end here. In addition to Flood Action, I want to also tell you about another NYLRF collaboration to tackle community resilience from yet another vital angle: mental health. Meet Alex Sutcliffe and her Major Incident Response Team (MIRT) who will offer support in the aftermath of a traumatic incident such as major flooding to help those who may have been affected:


Find out more about what they do on the Post Incident Support page on the NYRLF website and keep your eyes on this blog which will soon post more about  @alexsutcliffe24 work who explains:

“The MIRT team are a very special team of volunteers who are always ready and willing to be called out to support communities or individuals through a traumatic experience.  We do this by offering emotional and practical support, whenever and wherever it is needed.  The MIRT bags from EVAQ8 have been invaluable as an additional resource to allow the volunteers to be prepared and raring to go with ‘life essentials’ and short notice.
When communities or individuals need the assistance of one or more of the MIRT volunteers, it is at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.  Being evacuated from your home at short notice can leave you feeling very vulnerable and ‘out of control’.  The skills of the MIRT team, ensure that anyone in our care is well looked after and kept safe until such a time that they are able to return to their own homes.”

 

The creation of this special team is a UK first and so all must be hugely congratulated for getting this off the ground.

 

Building community resilience in the UK remains a top priority and the NYLRF model approach is a brilliant example that works.

Hazards and risks are many, not just flooding as we are preparing for a world that’s a least 2°C warmer.

Clearly, Resilience and Preparedness roadblocks  have not damped the spirits of the many dedicated emergency planners and volunteers that make it happen in Yorkshire. It is my sincere hope that their example will go on to inspire many. Why not consider starting a Flood Action or Community Preparedness Group in your area? Get in touch with your Local Resilience Forum and find out what opportunities there are.

Be prepared – not scared!

Monika

For more Resilience Blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For more on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness head over to our FREE resources at the Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. 

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added on 25Sep2017 as part of 30days30waysUK #prep2017day25 #preparedCommunity

ABC of Emergency Preparedness

One way of engaging with emergency preparedness is to create an ABC. It’s a fun activity for adults and kids alike to get thinking about the important topic of how to be better prepared for an emergency or disaster, what that entails and means. Here is one such ABC of emergency preparedness, focusing on household preparedness and family in a general setting. Examples are drawn internationally because the same fundamental preparedness principles apply irrespective of where in the world you are. I hope what follows will inspire you to come up with your own version of your ‘personal’ ABC of Emergency Preparedness.   [this post is also accessed by bit.ly/preparednessABC]

A  for ATTITUDE  | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

No matter what kind of emergency, staying calm and keeping a positive attitude is essential. Do not panic. Get your breathing under control to clear your mind so that you can assess the situation appropriately.

Connected to attitude are beliefs and here drawing on faith for strength is useful irrespective of exactly what kind of ideology you follow. In addition, check out the post on how to achieve realistic confidence in the face of crisis.

   

B  for BE BETTER PREPARED  | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

That means being PRO-ACTIVE rather than just re-active. Planning ahead, getting equipped and informed is your best bet. Preparedness means you are likely to better manage in an emergency or disaster. Up your chances by upping your capacities (kit, supplies, tools etc.) and capabilities (knowledge, training, skills etc).

 

C  for COMMUNICATE | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Emergency preparedness is a ‘group sport’ so to be able to communicate effectively before, during and after a crisis is vital. The word ‘preparedness’ implies being better prepared BEFORE something happens. Planning your communication is as important as communicating during your planning stage: it sets everything up and keeps everything going. That also means when you make your household emergency plan, check your assumptions: don’t just think you know but find out, update and verify, talk to reliable people in your communities as well as emergency planning professionals such as via your Local Resilience Forum. In addition, keep in mind that communication is more than just giving and following advice or instructions and staying in touch. It’s also about signalling for help, coordinating emergency plans beyond immediate family to other groups of people, locating the missing or lost, organising support and new supply chains etc. Some questions to explore include where do you find the right information? How and what do you communicate to your loved ones when you’re setting up your plan? What does communication look like during a crisis and in the aftermath in how to receive help or in how to assist? How can you communicate effectively under potentially extreme situations? What will you need to be more self-reliant?

 

D   for DEVICES | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Tech is great – when it works. Problem is it often doesn’t during a real crisis or disaster situation. No power, limited battery life, network failures… in short, you need additional kit as well as independent low-tech solutions. Good examples here are solar chargers for your gadgets, hard copies of local maps as well as your ID’s and insurance documents, pocket guides for first aid and survival etc.

 

E    for EVACUATION  | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Do you stay or go? In some situations the best option is safe evacuation, getting out of harm’s way quickly, returning once the all clear has been given by authorities. Evacuation can happen for many reasons and can be temporary, lasting just a few minutes or hours or expand to more medium or even long term shelter-in-place situations away from your home. Most evacuations are self-evacuations when you get right down to it.  So what exactly does safe self-evacuation look like?

 

F  for  FIRST AID | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

First aid is an essential life skill and the more training and knowledge you have the better off you are in an emergency situation. It’s that simple. However, it’s no good knowing a lot and then not having the tools and resources when and where you need them so a well-stocked first aid kit or medical kit is an absolute must, kitted to your abilities and needs.

 

G  for GO-BAG | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

All essentials packed in one sturdy grab bag ready to go at any time, that’s a GoBag. Find out how to build your own emergency kit and check out our preparedness hub for even more free resources.

 

H for HYGIENE  | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Hygiene contributes to health. Absence or insufficient hygiene in the aftermath of a disaster can have very serious consequences. Water purification is an important element as is travel hygiene, i.e. during an evacuation and shelter-in-place situation.

 

I  for  IDENTIFICATION | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Your GoBag must contain paper copies of documents that can prove your identity and address as a minimum. Additional documents and USB backups of i.e. personal photos, contacts list, insurance, inventory accounts etc. are highly recommended.

 

J  for JUNK  | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Everything but the kitchen sink, it might come in useful. No! Leave unnecessary items behind. Make the right choices in what to take with you and how to secure the belongings you leave behind. Your GoBag must be comprehensive enough to last you 72 hours yet must be light enough that you can carry it comfortable for extended periods of time. Loading up your car with tons of stuff does not mean you are better prepared. Less is more. Get the right kit; don’t simply make do. Your life may depend on it. And whatever you do, NEVER leave your pets behind!

 

K  for KEEP FOCUSED | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Emergencies or disaster can be confusing and scary. Understanding fear is important as it can be your best ally. What do you need to help you keep focused and maintain a positive attitude? Short-term energy food and drinks help as well as frequent morale boost. What works for you and how will you build this into your emergency plan to be better prepared?

 

L  for LOCAL MAPS | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Having accurate information about your local environment is key: roads, bridges, rivers, lakes, woods, towns etc. Don’t rely on tech alone which may stop functioning in an emergency or disaster. Know several ways to get to safe shelter locations. Also, knowing about your flood and other risks based on local maps is crucial.

 

M  for MEALS-READY-TO-EAT aka MRE  | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

If your car runs out of fuel, it stops and if YOU run out of fuel so will you. Maintaining energy levels during a crisis means that you can continue doing what you need to be doing. The last thing you want to worry is about cooking your next decent meal. MRE’s have been used by the military for many years and there are many reasons why they work so well for emergency preparedness: delicious, nutritious, long-shelf life, space and cost effective. So, check it out and also see our survival food page. What’s your favourite menu?

 

N  for NOURISHMENT | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Quality emergency and survival food is one aspect but there is also mental and emotional nourishment. As mentioned earlier, maintaining attitude and the ability to keep focus is crucial to being better prepared for emergencies. Once the initial urgent phase has passed there needs to be time to process, coming to terms with events and finding silver linings, giving and finding support on all levels: physical, mental and emotional – perhaps sometimes using ‘unusual’ tools  😉   ….

 

O  for ORGANISE | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Without ‘organising’ you are toast in an emergency or disaster situation, it’s that simple. Get cracking, it’s easy and even fun to do so. Make emergency preparedness plans for work and private life:  a personal emergency plan, a family emergency plan, a community emergency plan, a fire safety plan, an evacuation plan, a shelter-in-place plan, a travel emergency plan ….any and all that make sense and are needed in your particular sets of circumstances. To start, head over to our emergency preparedness hub with lots of free resources and downloads.

 

P  for PETS | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Leave no one behind in an emergency or disaster and this also goes for your pets or animals. We have a special page for Emergency Preparedness with Pets so head right over.

 

Q  for QUESTIONS   | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Never stop asking questions about emergency planning and emergency preparedness. Update and upgrade your knowledge, organise and be better prepared. Be selective in the resources you trust – there is a lot of information out there and not everything is good and valid. Local is massively important so a dig through the history of your area for clues of past major incidents is a good idea as is finding out information from your Local Resilience Forum and other trustworthy specialists.

 

R for RELOCATION POINT | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Where will you go if you have to evacuate? Not just an assembly point but an alternative safe location in a more medium-term or perhaps longer term where you can find shelter and support. What do you know about evacuation shelters near where you live or work? Are there any and how well equipped are they?What are your self-reliance options? Check out the post on mass evacuation.

 

S  for SAFETY | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Always think safety first. Don’t take unnecessary risks. This is especially important in a family or small group settings that have to rely on all members. Stay alert during emergencies and always be aware of your surroundings, watching out for potential dangers. Know the difference between risk and hazards. What are likely sources of risks and hazards and how do you plan to deal with them? It’s all part of your emergency plan.

 

T  for TRAVEL  | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Travel may become necessary before or in the aftermath of a disaster. Know your relocation point and how you will get there. Have your GoBag and other supplies ready. Be organised and be better prepared, have a positive attitude and keep focused. As part of your emergency preparedness plans, create checklists of items, streamline necessities and avoid junk. If you travel by car, always carry a Car Emergency Kit in addition to your other supplies.

 

U  for UNSURE | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Unsure about something? Doubt is excellent for it represents an open door, an opportunity to find out the right information from the right sources. Investigate, never stop asking questions when it comes to emergency preparedness.  Continue to upgrade and update your knowledge every day. Preparedness becomes simply part of who you are.

 

V  for VARIOUS NEEDS | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Children at different ages have different needs from young adults, the middle aged or seniors so you will have to think carefully what capacities and capabilities your emergency preparedness has to cover under which circumstances. It’s not as daunting as it sounds, however. There is already a lot you know and much you have and can do. Visit our preparedness hub for resources and downloads and get started.

 

W  for WEATHER | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Being weather aware means you will see it coming and can plan and act accordingly. Early warning systems are pretty good these days for major weather events depending on where in the world you are. Simply keeping an eye on the news or your favourite weather app will keep you in the loop. In addition, include diverse weather (not just severe storms) in your safe evacuation scenarios for it’s an entirely different matter in midsummer heat, deep winter snow freeze or during heavy rains or storms.

 

X   for Xerox copy | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Vital information such as IDs, insurance, inventories, accounts etc. should always have one or several hard copies in safe places as well as digital backups.

 

Y  for YOU CAN DO THIS!  | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

If you feel you are becoming overwhelmed remind yourself that you are capable of doing extraordinary things.  Focus on the next minute, the next five, the next hour and just keep going.  Most importantly BE PREPARED! Join the race where everyone wins:

    … and finally …..    

Z  for ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE | ABC of Emergency Preparedness

Yes, you heard right! The joke goes that if you are better prepared for a ‘zombie apocalypse’ then you are pretty much prepared for anything. If it takes that kind of Hollywood fantasy to create interest in emergency preparedness then why not? Let’s go for it. After all, this particular notion even exercises serious scientists who study how disease spreads. Take a look yourself and have a go at ‘Zombietown’ a disease dynamics simulation by physicists Alexander Alemi, Matthew Bierbaum, Christopher Myers and James Sethna of Cornell University and  take a look at Leicester University or get stuck in with the CDC:


I hope you enjoyed this ABC of Emergency Preparedness. Happy Easter and good luck with your personal plans for being better prepared. 

Monika   

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

 thank you for sharing!

 

For more EVAQ8 blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For FREE resources head over to our Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Thank you!

Find EVAQ8 on social media, like and follow us!

join EVAQ8.co.uk on facebook  follow EVAQ8.co.uk on twitter  join EVAQ8.co.uk on google+  discover and share EVAQ8 on pininterest  explore EVAQ8.co.ok on You Tube