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Emergency Preparedness - Crowds, Riots, Chemical, Volcano, Terrorism

Part of the extended info series How to prepare your Personal Emergency Plan    

Various Scenarios - Emergency Preparedness

Crowds - how to deal with crowd events, how to stay safe in crowds

The following was originally put together for planned crowd events i.e. London Olympics but is equally applicable during any crowd event, planned or unplanned, i.e. London Marathon, London Tube Strikes, Demonstrations, Mass Evacuations etc.

  • familiarize yourself with the route, site set-up, range of exits, help & security points
  • know alternative routes on different modes of transport
  • calculate plenty of time, set out early
  • agree on a plan should you get separated from loved ones while in a crowd
  • plan for an agree on potential emergency scenarios should you get hurt
  • carry some minimal items on your person: pocket first aid inc burns, emergency foil blanket, glow stick, indelible marker pen, tape (ie zinc oxide), para cord, water etc.
  • be identifiable, especially children and the elderly; write phone numbers on inside of forearm (later remove with degreasing soap) or have emergency contacts cards on person; carry photo of family members etc.
  • comply as instructed by public safety and health agencies and their reps
  • assist others if you can to help reduce potential congestion, disorder or panic but always consider your own safety - keep alert and focused, rest often, keep hydrated
  • save your phone battery life: text rather than call, turn screen brightness low, keep essential calls short but keep your family and friends updated. Let them know you are safe
  • redundancy - resilience: bicycle helmets and other recreational gear can double as personal protection in extreme conditions

NaCTSO guidance for security in crowded places (June 2017)

 Source: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/article6397891.ece/ALTERNATES/w460/King%27s%2BCross%2Bstation%2Bduring%2Bthe%2BTube%2Bstrike.jpg

Source: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2012/8/12/1344793539552/Ugandas-marathon-runner-S-010.jpg

Source: http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/56604000/jpg/_56604168_aerialcentral.jpg

Civil Unrest / Riots

List of riots (Wikipedia) – most recent UK riots 2011 (Guardian; Mad Mobs & Englishmen?)

Similar principles as above hold for safety in crowds if you must venture into areas affected by civil unrest or riots. Safer is, of course, to avoid becoming involved in the first place. To that effect consider waiting things out and shelter-in-place until the incident has passed.

 

Chemical Accidents

A chemical accident is the unintentional release of one or more hazardous substances which could harm human health or the environment. HSE Chemical classification;  Chemicals are classified into a wide range of hazard classes (Annex VI to CLP) i.e. explosive, flammable aerosol, self-reactive or self-heating substances, acute toxicity, skin corrosion, serious eye damage, carcinogenicity etc. The topic is too vast to cover here but you can easily search and find relevant information about each category or see i.e. HPA – Compendium of Chemical Hazards. If you are handling chemicals yourself – we all do to some extent in this modern world - you simply need to be familiar with the hazard symbols that appear on products. If you handle chemicals in your workplace then your employer is responsible to give you appropriate training.

Chemical incidents recently in the news:

Feb 2014: Northampton school chemical incident; Jan 2014: chemical spill in US leaves West Virginia residents without drinking water

Nov 2013 Hospital acid scare prompts evacuation; Sep 2013 Northaptonshire acid spill brings major disruptions; Aug 2013 Cornwall Industrial Estate spill; July 2013 Essex Chemical Plant spill; Cambridgeshire Harston A10 warning;

 Hospital chemical spill / source http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/70989000/jpg/_70989561_photo.jpg

 

How to prepare for a chemical incident scenario

  • be aware of chemicals in your environment and assess what risk they may pose to you; major incidents are thankfully quite rate
  • get trained in first aid for chemical exposure, find info (see resources below)

How to deal with a chemical spill scenario

  • stay indoors until the all clear has been given by the Emergency Services. Bring pets indoors. Do not collect children from school unless instructed to do so as they will be looked after
  • tune in to local news on radio and TV
  • close all doors and windows; block obvious vents; switch off air conditioning, ventilation units and fans
  • extinguish all naked flames; turn gas off
  • get ready to evacuate, get your Go-Bag, use personal protection (masks, gloves...)

Selected resources:

Advice, i.e. local Gov Gosport.Gov;  Cheshire East Council; Richmond GovHSE Chemicals at work; HSE leaflets; SimpleSensibleSafety-Chemical and bio hazards;

Books:  Household Chemicals and Emergency First Aid;  Calculated Risks: The Toxicity and Human Health Risks of Chemicals in our Environment; Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes;

Data: UK.Gov Oil and Chemical Spill Data; UK.Gov Chemical Hazards and Poisons reportCRHF.org Chemical Accident Histories;

 New and old Hazard symbols / source: http://www.direct.gov.uk/prod_consum_dg/groups/dg_digitalassets/@dg/documents/digitalasset/dg_197681.gif

 

Volcano ash

Interrupts air travel, grounding and stranding passengers (i.e. the Eyjafjallajoekull, Iceland, April 2010; Wikipedia; BBC) impact on Scotland’s natural resources (info); How it unfolded.

Find out more about Volcanos around the world (i.e. list on Wiki) and especially Mount Etna, the tallest active Volcano in Europe (Sicily, Italy; (BBC).

Recent incidents: 14Feb2014 East Java; 03Feb2014 Ecuador Tungurahua volcano; 01Feb2014 Volcano Sinabung in Sumatra;  30Dec2013 Eastern El Salvador;

For fun, you might want to try your hand at the MET Office's eVAcuate game as part of the 2013 National Science & Engineering Week. It is a volcano scenario.

 Eyjafjallajokull eruption 2010 Source: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01771/Eyjafjallajokull-v_1771742i.jpg

Terrorism

List of Terrorism incidents in the UK (Wikipedia) | Also see NaCTSO guidance on crowded places (June 2017)
 

Meteor / space debris accident

2013 Chelyabinsk, Russia 1500 people injured, 7000 building damaged (Wiki);

Accidents and Asteroids (euronews); Giant Impact Hypothesis (Wiki; some evidence 06/2014 ET, BBC)

  Space Debris Problem getting worse - NASA; Source http://d1jqu7g1y74ds1.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/space-debris-3-polar-orbit.jpg

 

other resources: How to prepare your Emergency Plan