Category Archives: Extreme Weather

Extreme Weather and Preparedness for extreme weather events such as storms, heatwaves and extreme cold

Emergency Preparedness matters: heatwave, fire, storm and flooding – summer 2018

It’s been an amazing summer 2018, one that in the UK has been compared to the previous record-setting heatwave in 1976 such as in this BBC article . No matter how you draw the comparison (and the article has some interesting graphs) one change in the intervening 42 years is certain: global average temperatures have risen and this is set to continue.

Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense. They trigger serious air pollution alerts and are dangerous to human health. I’m not looking forward to this year’s figures being released but in the 2003 pan-European heatwave there were over 2000 excessive deaths in the UK alone as also mentioned in our UK preparedness awareness video. Public Health England has a useful blog on why some people suffer during heatwaves.    

Heatwaves also connect to fires and this year has been bad all around, terrifyingly illustrated in Wildfires around the world: the photos that explain the flames.

The UK also suffered massively and prevention is more than a fire service issue, research showing that informal local and national  partnerships are key.

Again, it’s about building capabilities and capacities at community and personal level and that starts with being cued in about personal fire safety preparedness. The heat eventually breaks with thunderstorms and torrential rain leading to localised flooding. This year, flooding in Europe was again common and with devastating consequences. A few examples illustrate the danger and devastation from France and my native Switzerland:

Luckily, so far the UK has gotten off relatively lightly – but then we’re only just about half way through August. The exception here is Northern Ireland. Read the next tweet slowly and let that number sink in, for it can happen anywhere with little or no warning

Thankfully, a flood relief scheme was activated for domestic properties but may not reach all affected. Small business are typically not covered either. This is why personal preparedness and insurance are so important. Most people are not adequately covered nor know enough about preparedness.And it is of course at this point I plug our emergency preparedness hub which links to lots of relevant and useful resources for you to check out. Also thankfully and as of 1st July 2018, the Met Office now issues official thunderstorm warnings, a first in its 164 year history! 

Brilliant! Early warning is key of course so make sure you are #weatheraware and tune in regularly. Another excellent way to do this is via the Met Office weather app. In addition you need a low-tech backup such as a trusty wind-up radio which should be standard kit in your emergency grab bag.  Want to know and do more? Then don’t miss this year’s September is Preparedness Month #30days30waysUK campaign.

Have a brilliant rest of August!

Monika

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The Great British Summer, #weatheraware #floodaware and better personal preparedness

May is always a special time in the UK with not one but two Bank Holiday Weekends giving us all some cherished time off. What a stunner they were, quite literally with glorious weather turning nasty quite quickly and in a sense – sadly and tragically for some – going from ‘heaven to hell’ rather fast as I’ve written about earlier in Disaster Preparedness – what Disaster? Why Preparedness?

Did you witness this?

 

Local help was quick and is another excellent showcase for UK Community Resilience, the power of volunteering and how it pays to be kind

… but despite best efforts, tragedy struck

 

Better personal preparedness saves lives and property. This concerns us all as we are experiencing the consequences of living in a world that is 2C or more warmer. Pro-active preparedness is key and there is much that everyone can do including better personal safety and better personal preparedness.  It’s all about personal capacities and capabilities and what that exactly means (what you must plan and prepare for) and looks like is different for every person. However, it all starts the same way for everybody:

GET A KIT. MAKE A PLAN. BE INFORMED.

 

 

This website and blog offers lots of very useful tips so take a good look around and start building your personal preparedness today. Head to our preparedness hub, browse the blog navigation here on the right as well as the top navigation of the website. And remember to follow us on social media for more info, updates and resources.

Summer 2018 is here! Enjoy it and stay safe at home and during your travels. Always stay #weatheraware #floodaware, know about #preparedness and be better prepared.

Monika
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Cold Wave – beyond Cold Weather Action to Personal Preparedness

Have you seen some of the lovely snow and ice pictures floating around on social media since yesterday? This blog about Cold Weather Preparedness is the exact opposite from my earlier post on Heatwave – beyond Heat Health Watch to Personal Preparedness back in June. Since we are pretty firmly on a path where we need to Prepare for a world that’s more than 2°C warmer  which translates into more frequent and severe weather events, personal preparedness really does make a lot of sense. You can take pro-active steps to be better prepared and stay well and healthy also with regards to being #WinterReady.  So….

What is personal preparedness for a cold wave?

First, it’s about being informed which then means you can get better prepared. Let’s break this down and a good example here is this post from the Northamptonshire Emergency Planning Team. Take a closer look at the graphic:

The UK’s MetOffice issues Cold Weather Action alerts as part of ‘Cold Weather Health Watch’.  This system operates in England from the 1 November to 31 March every year and runs in association with Public Health England. Currently there is a level three AMBER warning in place which for the authorities means that social and healthcare services must execute specific actions with regards to high-risk population groups such as the very young, the elderly or those with certain chronic health conditions. What exactly happens on the government side, you can find out on the Cold Weather Plan for England. Importantly, you can take personal steps to be better prepared. Cold weather can mean snow and ice which, if you’re out may look like this

Naturally, it makes a lot of sense to prepare yourself and your vehicle properly before setting out. Stay updated on the weather and road conditions and allow for plenty of time. This blog, naturally, recommends proper winter driving preparedness, for example:

Personal #Preparedness matters | https://t.co/KIqCuQazkD#RoadSafety #HealthandSafety #WinterReady #car #travel #weekend #driving #snow #ice #RTC #crash #delays #weatheraware #prepared pic.twitter.com/G9l6GHlDNk

— EVAQ8 Emergency Kits (@EVAQ8_news)

… and listen to Dave, he has excellent advice for the enthusiastic:

 

In addition, preparing properly for a Cold Wave also concerns your home; for example see our info page on severe winter preparedness.  Keep in mind that freezing temperatures, snow and ice have other consequences, such as power cuts  which may also impact your home food safety .  Therefore, you may want to consider some basic shelter-in-place measures and stocking the right emergency food which you can prepare and enjoy even when utilities become disrupted.
Keeping warm is key during a cold weather alert. There are easy and simple steps you can take to stay safe at home and when going out:

  •  keep your main rooms heated, use extra blankets
  •  take extra care with electrical items and be #FireSafety aware
  • dress in layers and keep active
  • take extra care when out and about to avoid accidents
  • stay #weatheraware, have the right kit and supplies

Finally, a super

TOP TIP for Cold Weather preparedness

… and you will laugh for it’s a very small thing. Carry an emergency foil blanket in your backpack or handbag. It’s cheap, hardly takes up space nor adds weight and is a potential life saver. And that, by the way, applies for business too which should always stock emergency blankets as part of their business preparedness.

 

And so I leave you with a couple of lovely winter images and wish you a warm and prepared rest of the week and a cosy and safe weekend #StaySafe #bePrepared.

Monika

 

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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!

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It pays to be #winterready and  better prepared. Avoid being stranded! Check out our info page What goes into a Winter Car Emergency Kit .

 

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

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

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

Safe Evacuation: ‘mass’ evacuation and why ‘self’ evacuation preparedness makes a lot of sense

updated 24/06/2017

Mass evacuation is (mostly) self-evacuation – what you need to know.

Part 2 of  ‘Safe Evacuation – what exactly does safe evacuation look like?’  and ‘Safe Evacuation: tall buildings, tower blocks: why Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans and Emergency Preparedness tools are essential’ (tip: follow the blog category ‘Safe Evacuation’ on the right hand navigation).

The first post in this series looked at what an evacuation is (the immediate and urgent movement of people out of harm’s way to a safe location) and under what circumstances it may occur. It stayed pretty much within the familiar bounds of small scale evacuations from a home or a building of ‘regular’ size. Now I want to begin tackling another fascinating aspect which is ‘mass evacuation’. Timely and ironically perhaps I post this at the very moment a mass evacuation is actually under way in Florida and the Carolinas CNN Hurricane Matthew mass evacuation

 

Mass Evacuation: not relevant in peace-time UK ? Think again.

Other than the ‘regular’ emergency evacuations usually inconveniencing relatively small numbers of people because of suspicious packages (ie airports, train stations, high street, shops, shopping centres, and offices etc), sudden finds of unexploded WW devices (Southwark) and even sinking ferries you may remember these two major incidents:

      • 2005 Birmingham evacuates approximately 20,000 people following a security alert

 

       Neither, however, actually classifies as ‘mass evacuation’. According to the Mass Evacuation Framework (2014) by the London Resilience Partnership, evacuating 5,000 or 20,000 people is still ‘just’ a so called ‘medium scale evacuation’. Nevertheless, the Holbon electrical fire on 01 April 2015 is a good example and here is why. In the words of Gary Squires from the London Fire Brigade (BBC)

 “lots of people had “self-evacuated” from nearby buildings and it was only the ones on Kingsway that had been evacuated by the authorities.”

This illustrates the point I’m making about the importance of self-evacuation and the need for better preparedness. Why? Because many workers and students were unable to return for several days (36 hour blaze), having left behind wallets, phones, keys and other important personal items in their hurry to get to safety. Thankfully no one was hurt and the incident happened on a relatively fine spring day, not in the middle of rush hour or during severe weather. It would have been a different story.

I also want to mention the 7/7 bombing. Police estimate  4,000 people were caught up in the blasts in some way, many forced to self-evacuate. One of those people was my colleague Ben who has written here on school emergency preparedness. He will talk about his experience in a separate post. For now, I simply wish well all those currently caught up in the events of Hurricane Matthew and stress that preparedness is important and actually quite easy and straight forward where ever you are in the world.

UK organisations and businesses I urge to very seriously consider expanding your capacities and include Workplace Emergency Kits in your Health and Safety, Security and Business Continuity planning.  Considering how much such a simple and cost-effective step reduces your risks it is well worth the minor investment. A small item like a Personal Evacuation Pack to which items relevant to the individual have been added can make a real difference.    

Monika    

This post is also accessed by bit.ly/MassEVAC

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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!

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

updated 25June2017

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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UK Community Resilience – a brilliant example of what really works

source: http://www.toimg.net/managed/images/10188817/w660/h370/image.jpg

A couple of posts ago when talking about heatwaves I casually mentioned some exciting developments in how EVAQ8 is getting involved in Community Resilience in England’s largest county. If you thought Yorkshire you were right. Actually, I was referring to North Yorkshire, with 3212 square miles of glorious landscape and many diverse communities one of the most fascinating places in the UK – or so I think, impatient to explore and take my camera up north at the next opportunity.

But let me start at the beginning and introduce you to the simply brilliant North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum or NYLRF team. They are doing something new and amazing:  they’ve come up with a robust plan to engage their local people pro-actively with Emergency and Disaster Preparedness.

The best bit is: their strategy is really working and I am thrilled and honored to share these developments with you as we go along. For this is where all this gets really exiting: it is an active work in progress right now which means we are at the very forefront of some pretty ground-breaking stuff:

the NYLRF Community Emergency Plan Scheme

Preparedness & Planning – first some background: why, who, where and what

The ‘why’ is easy: it’s the law. Since 2004 under the Civil Contingency’s Act, Category 1 responders have a duty to prepare and plan for emergencies. There are 38 Local Resilience Forums in England and 5 in Wales which are at the core of the national network that also includes ReadyScotland and Northern Ireland Civil Contingencies Branch.

Not only must the LRFs warn and inform the public, they also must promote preparedness and resilience to businesses (Business Continuity) and to the public in general. Naturally it’s a bit more complex than that but for my purposes here that about covers the who, where and what. However, I’ve not touched on the concept of Community Resilience everyone is talking about these days just yet. So….

What is ‘Community Resilience’ and how does it tie in with Preparedness and Planning?

Definitions are important as they help make a concept practical which in turn triggers policy changes and the flow of resources (see earlier post What Disaster, Why Preparedness).  So let’s start with ‘Community’: that is simply a group of people either living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common1. The theory2 goes (and it’s quite intuitive really) that well prepared – meaning informed and equipped – individuals, families, neighborhoods, workplaces, faith organisations etc. that closely interact are better capable of mobilizing resources for response and recovery. Or in other words:

Resilience is based on a culture of preparedness                                             (Ready Scotland, 2013)

So far it is quite straight forward but now it gets trickier because ‘Community Resilience’ as a concept means many things to many people and there is a considerable ongoing debate. Rather than bore you to tears let me simply state that I found the CARRI Report definition (2013, p10) one of the most useful:

Community resilience is the capability to anticipate risk, limit impact and bounce back rapidly through survival, adaptability, evolution and growth in the face of turbulent change.

source: http://www.laresilience.org/images/community-resilience-ovals.pngWhat I particularly like is the focus on capability. It implies inherent and latent capacities. It also ties neatly to preparedness which is not just about needs and liabilities but also about assets. In my view this creates an empowering shift and starting point to mobilize engagement which, given the right momentum, may overcome even learnt helplessness and apathy. Thus

Community Resilience is

  • an inherent and dynamic community property
  • a community adaptation to adversity that leads to positive outcomes with respect to community functionality
  • a way to compare communities in terms of their ability to adapt

(Pfefferbaum et al, 2015)

Community Resilience: right input – right output/engagement

Community Resilience efforts are time and relationship intensive (Houston, 2015). However, it does not need to be complicated. Committed leadership is crucial and with this we are back to our story and the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum Team.  So, what happened?

Earlier this year NYLRF put an upgraded strategy in place.

The right ingredients for Community Resilience – a Success Story and Model approach

Having identified parishes as one of their key target communities, NYLRF adapted their existing scheme with an ambitious set of incentives which made the following assets available to their parishes:

  • free practical resources: Emergency Kit (comprehensive resources including winter preparedness that were specifically designed by NYLRF and EVAQ8) and a reduced cost defibrillator (Yorkshire Ambulance)
  • free information: comprehensive resources and templates to aid in preparing plans as well as warning and informing the local community
  • free training: British Red Cross first aid training and Yorkshire Ambulance Service defibrillator training for the community

This NYLRF Community Emergency Plan scheme not only provides the perfect mix of practical support (information, practical templates and kit, valuable training), it also ticks all the right boxes from the point of view of the latest research and good practice; it represents

  • focus on community engagement
  • bio-ethical principles, ie. autonomy, beneficence
  • emphasizing assets and needs in a multi-hazard approach relevant to the local context
  • encouraging skills and development

(Pfefferbaum et al, 2015)

So, it’s no surprise that  NYLRF is highly successful in promoting and building community resilience!

Just how successful I will share with you next time when I write more about their current impact, what other types communities may also benefit and about other strategies such as NYLRF’s pro-active participation in key promotional events .

In the meantime, please feel free to check out the North Yorkshire website,  (twitter @NYorksPrepared ), the additional resources/references listed below and resources through our info gateway Emergency Plan.

How resilient is your community?

Have a great week.

Monika

[edited to add: part 2 of the story has now been published; or simply look under the category ‘Yorkshire Model’].


thank you for sharing and helping raise awareness for Community Resilience and Preparedness!

References / Resources

  • 1 Oxford Dictionary | might seem trivial but it is important. There are many different kinds of communities with specific and unique preparedness requirements;  something I will explore later
  • 2 Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological theory of development and resilience (Boon et al, 2012 in Prior and Hagmann, 2014;)
  • – Houston, Brian (2015) Bouncing Forward: Assessing Advances in Community Resilience Assessment, Intervention and Theory to Guide Future Work; American Behavioral Scientist, 2015, Vol.59(2), pp.175-180
  • – Pfefferbaum, Betty; Pfefferbaum, Rose and Van Horn, Richard (2015) Community Resilience Interventions: Participatory, Assessment-Based, Action-Oriented Processes.  American Behavioral Scientist February 2015 59: 238253, first published online on September 22, 2014 doi:10.1177/0002764214550298
  • – Prior, Timothy and Hagmann, Jonas (2014)  Measuring resilience: methodological and political challenges of a trend security concept, Journal of Risk Research, 2014, Vol.17(3), p.281-298

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Heatwave – how to stay cool

Wow. It’s 7.45 am and the thermometer in my office is already at 28°C/83°F.
No doubt we will get to live the predicted #HeatWave in a big way today.

Listening to BBC radio two over breakfast earlier made me chuckle at some of the suggestions on how to stay cool. Putting your shoes in the freezer may not be the best way to go about it.

But what do you do, especially if you’re either running around in a scorching city as I’ll have to later or stuck in a hot office as I am now? And no, no air conditioning here in case you’re wondering. Not because our building is old. Rather it’s part of a new and ‘green’ development designed with good insulation and air flow, the balance of which today will not meet my personal sense of comfortable environment.

Well to begin with, ’running’ around is certainly out. So, dropping the usually fast city pace will be the first thing to remember and do …. starting with typing slower 😉 – keeps my sanity and that of others.

Then there are the usual heatwave preparedness tips like

  • stay in the shade
  • drink plenty of water
  • wear light and loose fitting clothes, a sun hat and apply sun protection
  • move to the coolest room and open windows only when the outside temperature is cooler than inside

However, there is one additional tip I’d like to share with you, pinched a couple of years ago from some savvy New Yorkers during one of their severe heatwaves.

Get a watertight ziploc bag and partially fill it with crushed ice

source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/4a/97/f3/4a97f3d13ce8031523189dcd0742db4e.jpgEasily fits in your handbag or satchel and can be emptied/refilled as needed without much hassle. For instant cool, put it on your neck or chest, even under your feet and the crooks of your elbows.

Back when in New York that worked pretty well as lots of Deli’s have crushed ice machines. I guess I will find out just how well that method works today in London. I might pack a small rolling pin just case 😉

Oh, and if you’re at home, frozen peas work great too and you can refreeze them. Just don’t eat them!!

And finally, what am I doing at 07.45h at the office? Lots of very exciting things are in development here for Emergency Preparedness as we have just started a collaboration with the largest county in the United Kingdom.

I can’t wait to tell you more about their pilot project. I hugely look forward to showing you the amazing work they are doing for community resilience which may serve as an excellent model for all of us. But more later, I’ve got to run  – or rather NOT!

Wishing you a COOL day!

Keep an eye on your thermometer and weather app. Enjoy your ice teas and ice creams!

Monika

Also of interest: Heatwave – beyond Heat Health Watch to Personal Preparedness


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Disaster Preparedness – what Disaster? Why Preparedness?

updated 05/2017

It’s midweek and I am meeting some people.
“…. what do you do?” The question is innocent enough at any social gathering. What happens next however is always quite interesting for me. When I say “I am in Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, we create Preparedness Kits for  individuals, business, organizations and local government” I either get a blank stare and the topic moves swiftly on or it gets engaging:

What do you mean by Preparedness? What Disaster? Where?

Now, that is a very good question. There is a quite a bit of confusion and a considerable gap between theory and practice – that is the difference between disaster theory and actual disaster risk reduction (DRR) and, more recently, preparedness. Thankfully, clarity has improved and the gap is closing for Disaster Preparedness concerns us all – and not just philosophically:

“Live moves very fast. It rushes from Heaven to Hell in a matter of seconds”      —  Paul Coelho

Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5c/The_Ladder_of_Divine_Ascent_Monastery_of_St_Catherine_Sinai_12th_century.jpg

As imagery of that quote I particularly like the 12th century ‘Ladder of Divine Ascent’ at  Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai which, to me, is a good visual analogy of the precariousness of life as we strive for (ultimate) peace and security.

Predicting the future is no easy task, even with today’s amazing tech and science to help us understand and manage the risks associated with globalisation, urbanisation, climate change, population growth, dwindling resources, etc.

New technologies combine with existing ones, changing old and well understood hazards, and creating new ones in the process. People and communities worldwide – including the UK – become more vulnerable as a result of these new hazards in ways that we may not have encountered before – ways even that are hard to imagine.

‘Natural’ disaster data – perhaps not as straightforward as you may think…

source http://static1.squarespace.com/static/52db6435e4b0826240a963ce/t/5303decae4b053c16a486ebe/1392762572454/katrina.png So called ‘natural disaster’ data is readily available nowadays but the term is actually a bit of an oxymoron. Natural events trigger a range of ‘disasters’, the resulting damage is largely the result of lack of planning and poor development which ends up putting property and people at risk.

Another issue is that most disaster data, like the following graphs, are biased.  The one by the insurer MunichRe is skewed towards the developed world, as opposed to, for example the EM-DAT based Oxfam report Time’s Bitter Flood which focuses on developing countries. There are other subtleties that may get ‘lost’ in how data is entered into international databases such as the one by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters CRED. Often not being considered (but thankfully that is also changing) are issues of geographical or time scale (no difference between 10 deaths in 1 min or 6 months) or that gross rather than normalized data is emphasized, yet there can be significant differences between total damage and per capita damage. Despite these limitations the various data nevertheless show a clear trend:

A clear trend: Natural Disasters / Catastrophes are increasing

Source: http://makewealthhistory.org/2011/05/30/the-number-of-natural-disasters-is-on-the-rise/ Source: https://makewealthhistory.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/disasters-oxfam.jpgAnd now, another ‘bad’ El Nino seems a certainty:

Impacts from disasters are complex and wide-reaching but more importantly, they affect us all in a myriad of direct and indirect ways even on the ‘other’ side of the world. Disasters do not respect boundaries, whether geographical, social, economic or political5. For a historic insight into disasters located in the UK, Wiki has a couple of interesting lists: List of disasters in Great Britain and Ireland by death toll and List of natural disasters in Great Britain and Ireland .

So, what then is a disaster?

Actually, that’s another excellent question for the term has been used in many different ways1. Operational definitions are important since they trigger political decisions and a flow of resources.

Disasters are more than ‘just’ large emergencies and catastrophes are more than ‘just’ large disasters.

How we talk about and define ‘disaster’ has implications for what kind of research is undertaken and what strategies and resources are used to manage them. Disaster is an intellectually complex and emotionally loaded word that should be used with care. Theory is important as it underpins good practise. For example, in creating hazard maps, different concepts of ‘disaster’ need to be considered not just rapid onset well-defined events like an earthquake or  a volcanic eruption but also  slow onset diffuse events like droughts which only recently are being considered as disaster events1  (also see the current California Mega Drought or Wiki Historic Examples of Drought directly affecting India, Russia, China, USA, Australia and many countries in Africa but having much wider impacts).

‘Dis-aster’ (Latin) literally means ill-favoured star

source: https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5216/5383975707_66c561a1a2_z.jpg

Jupiter, the king of the gods and the god of sky and thunder

That is one way of revealing its origins in a classical and fatalistic worldview that saw calamities as coming from the heavens (or as in my later example above the daemonic nether regions).

Most traditional interpretations tend to revolve around agent descriptions, physical damage, social disruption and negative evaluation while more modern approaches favour social constructionism and the disruptions during and after a natural disaster event2.

A disaster is more than one thing (object, event, feeling) to different people and so while theorists may argue for a single, concise definition there is value in diversity.

What ‘disaster’ means to people is subjective, first and foremost and thus not so easily definable. People across the world interpret disasters differently, depending on their goals, cultural views and values.

Defining ‘disaster’ is complex and challenging

Disaster taxonomies exist similar to the ones used in biology3 and one commonly used typology is based on frequency, duration, area, onset speed, spatial dispersion and time spacing4. Other, rather coarse and overly simplistic categorizations use the labels ‘natural’ versus ‘technological/man-made’ or ‘rapid’ versus ‘slow onset’ as mentioned earlier.

Getting to grips with better taxonomies is important for both research and operations. Emergencies, disasters and catastrophes all show different characteristics both quantitative and qualitative which necessitate different management and planning strategies. Now, all this, while interesting, is also quite ‘academic’.

Preparedness, on the other hand, is intensely practical. Even in research…

Preparedness refers to concrete sets of actions taken as precautionary measures in the face of potential disasters

This includes information and training as well as the physical preparations of adapting infrastructure and readying emergency supplies. In our current climate of dwindling public services and resources, business and individuals increasingly have to take on their own Emergency and Disaster Preparedness responsibilities. Naturally, this varies widely depending on the particular circumstances. However the necessity and utility of a good dose of self-sufficiency is, in my view, self-evident.

Being stronger and better prepared individually not only helps you to survive and bounce back, but automatically makes for stronger and better prepared communities.

 

Preparedness is empowering.

Preparedness is a diverse, practical toolkit that can make a huge difference. Start with our FREE resources. As an individual begin by making your own Emergency Plan. As a Business, especially if you are an SME, look into Business Preparedness and practical Business Continuity. And if you can’t find the practical resources and kit you want then give us a shout. Our specialty is, after all, custom-made kits and we’re always happy to help.

Until next time – I wish you lots of motivation to tackle your own Emergency and Disaster Preparedness and bring it into your wider communities.

Monika

 Thank you for sharing, raising awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness

This page is also being accessed from bit.ly/whyPreparedness

References / Resources

  • 1 Etkin, D. (2015) Disaster Theory – An Interdisciplinary Approach to Concepts and Causes. Butterworth-Heinemann (Elsevier) Oxford, UK
  • 2Quarantelli, E.L (1998) What is a disaster? New Answers to Old Questions, ed. Perry and Quarantelli (USA, Xlibrib Corp) / (2000) Emergencies, Disasters and Catastrophes are different phenomena. University of Delaware DRC Preliminary Paper#304,6) / (2005) A Social Science Research Agenda for the Disasters of the 21st Century in What is a disaster? New Answers to Old Questions, ed. Perry and Quarantelli (USA, Xlibrib Corp)
  • 3 Krebs, G.A. (1989) Description, Taxonomy and Explanation in Diaster Research. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters 7, no 3; p277-280
  • 4 Burton et al. (1993) The Environment as Hazard. Guilford Press
  • 5 Hannigan, J (2012) Disasters without borders. Polity Press. Cambridge, UK

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