Category Archives: Preparedness: Business

Preparedness for Business, practical Business Continuity: self reliance, self sufficiency, resilience

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.

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 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 tools for their Business Preparedness, Business Continuity and Business Contingency planning. While you’re here take a look and explore the 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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Welcome to 2017 – be prepared, not scared

Be prepared, not scared. No kidding!

image: huffingtonpost (http://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/scalefit_630_noupscale/5865938f1500002c0091668c.png)And I’m being entirely practical, not sarcastic (and truthful) like the BBC’s Charlie Brooker’s 2016 wipe  nor pragmatic (and accurate) like the Guardian’s  Climate change in 2016: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

If I were to answer Sarah Marsh’s appeal What is giving you hope for 2017 then I would say that:

finally, emergency preparedness is going mainstream in the UK

No, I’m not talking ‘prepper’, they’ve been at it for many years and are mentioned in this blog elsewhere (use the search function if you’re interested). I’m talking main stream embracing emergency preparedness: regular households, small and medium sized businesses, schools and other communities, even places of worship.  That is, truly, encouraging and very timely.

Today, the BBC highlighted that Terrorism ‘first-aid training [is] needed’ , mentioning the

launch of a new app called CitizenAid

Citizenaid APP | Image source http://citizenaid.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/phonestuff-540x308.jpgIt aims to be a guide for ‘Public Immediate Actions for multiple casualties from shooting, stabbing or a bombing’. In other words, a practical extension for everyone and following on from last year’s ‘run, tell, hide’ campaign by the government. For more on that see “what are invacuation, lock-down and shelter in place” (not just for business). Other highly useful UK preparedness apps include the Met Office weather app and the British Red Cross Emergency app. FloodAlerts is not an app just yet but you can bookmark it in your phone’s browser. But back to Citizen Aid and their app which works even offline

Their brand new website asks an excellent question at this time of the year:

Why not start 2017 with a resolution to be prepared?

Needless to say, I think that’s a very good idea so do download their and the other apps but don’t stop there. If you’re reading this then you certainly are in the perfect place to start properly with emergency preparedness. It’s easy: simply begin at our preparedness hub and browse from there. You will find lots of very useful free resources as well as reliable, cost-effective products that help you get equipped and be better prepared. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, well, we specialise in custom kits so check that out. Follow us on social media and keep updated (facebook, twitter). That’s your preparedness sorted. As for me, I’m particularly excited this year to contribute designing a much bigger and better ‘September is Preparedness Month’ campaign ‘30days30waysUK’ which is beginning to take shape as I write this as well as piloting a brand new ISO/British Standard on Business Preparedness; more on all this later. For now, I leave you with my best wishes for safe and happy New Year and an

easy solution to your New Year’s resolution to be better prepared:

get a kit – make a plan – be prepared; start today!  

Monika  

 thank you for sharing, raising awareness for Emergency Preparedness!

 

Emergency Preparedness Cartoon EVAQ8 Jan 2017For 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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The 2016 National Flood Resilience Review for the time-pressed: UK Flooding, what you need to know

updated 02/11/2016

“We need to recognise that there is a non-negligible chance that we will see further events (flooding) of a similar, or maybe even greater, scale over the next decade.” (Executive summary)

Sadly, awareness of the seriousness of flooding is very thin on the ground. Just 6-8% of people actually living with flood risk know they are vulnerable, a figure that has not changed much since 2014 according to the Environment Agency’s @johncurtinEA.

That was households. What about business? For small businesses that make up 99% of the UK economy, it turns out that SME’s ‘prefer’ to react rather than pro-actively engage in business continuity and business preparedness as discussed recently during @TheFloodExpo . Dr Jessica Lamond (CFCR UWE)  showed that, sadly, SMEs are not pro-active (despite this making a lot of business sense), taking active steps only after having been flooded – twice! Even after measures are taken, actual preparedness is just at 60%. These are stark figures.

 

In September  the @cabinetofficeuk with @DefraGovUK under the leadership of  @andrealeadsom and with input from @uksciencechief published the National Flood Resilience Review. It charts the immense work undertaken by @EnvAgency and @metoffice in the wake of the devastating 2015/16 floods, lessons learnt and ways forward for better resilience nationwide.

For those of you who are time pressed or disinclined to read the full report, here are some key points important for household and business preparedness:

UK Flooding: money matters

  • £2.3 billion will be spent over the next six years from 2015- 2021 to strengthen flood and coastal defences with a particular focus on better protecting 300,000 homes
  • recovery packages handled by local authorities are currently in place for homes, businesses and farms in areas of Northern England affected by the 2015/6 floods
  • Flood Re has been established to ensure that households can continue to obtain affordable flood insurance (schemes for small business are being discussed; source: FloodExpo)

UK Flooding: severe weather and more frequent, stronger storms

  • the intensity of recent storms is unusual, but not unprecedented
  • a comprehensive study of trends (1871-2010) shows a robust signal of increasing numbers of strong winter storms and with increasing intensity for the high latitude North Atlantic; further south over the mid-latitude North Atlantic (ie the path of the storms that affected the UK in winter 2013/14) signal are more complex. Although the number of strong winter storms has not increased since 1871, storm mean intensity has increased. Notably, for very strong storms, the mean intensity has increased significantly. However, results are not conclusive and there remains substantial scientific debate about the behaviour of the North Atlantic jet stream and the storms that form along it.

UK Flooding: extreme rain fall, extreme tidal scenarios, sea level rise

  • rainfall depends on geography, the west receiving ten times more rain than the east of the UK; England and Wales is divided into six climate regions
  • based on robust analysis, the Met Office concludes that winter monthly rainfall totals could plausibly be 20% higher than recent past extremes in some parts of the country and up to 30% higher than recent past extremes in other parts
  • seasonal variability: winter flows have increased in upland, western catchments; autumn flows have increased in Central England and parts of Eastern Scotland. There is no apparent pattern of change in summer flows across the UK
  • high winter flows have increased over the last 30 years and there has been an increase in the frequency and magnitude of flooding over the same period, particularly in the West and North.  However, as with rainfall, longer records demonstrate that there are flood-rich and flood-poor periods in the hydrological record. Reconstruction of floods from sediment records suggests some very large floods in the 18th and 19th centuries
  • sea level along the English Channel has already risen by about 12cm during the 20th century; this is over and above the increases associated with sinking of the southern part of the UK due to isostatic adjustment from the last Ice Age; this increases the risk of coastal flooding and tidal locking. A further overall 11-16cm of sea level rise is likely by 2030, relative to 1990
  • the Environment Agency’s Extreme Flood Outlines (EFO) have been stress-tested and found to be a reliable way to identify areas at risk from extreme river and coastal flooding over the next ten years
  • the risk of extreme river flows resulting in a severe flood are not unusual but the probability of this occurring is low
  • the 2016 National Risk Assessment (confidential document) for the first time differentiates fluvial and surface water flood risk in place of a single ‘inland flood risk’, allowing a better targeted approach to planning and management (NRR Civil Emergencies)

Limitations of scientific models

  • statistical analysis used to produce the report assumes that the probability of flooding has not changed significantly over time, for example because of  changes in land use, climate change or other climatic variations
  • interestingly climate change was not identified as a factor, so called ‘natural variability’ dominating extreme rainfall scenarios ; but there was consensus that the techniques used should be developed further to explore a fuller range of possible events
  • the variable nature of regional/local weather and rainfall plus the complexities of terrain and catchments mean that any results are indicative only and cannot describe all settings
  • the next set of UK Climate Projections due to be published in 2018 (UKCP18)

 

UK flooding: critical national infrastructure and the private sector

We depend on a secure supply of services such as electricity, telecommunications, water, healthcare and transport. Many are delivered by the private sector. Government, sector regulators and industries are working together to ensure security of supply across the 13 CNI (critical national infrastructure) sectors (more, see CPNI). The loss of local services during the winter floods 2015/6 meant that, for the first time, individual sector-by-sector assets at risk from flooding were identified.   The complex inter-dependencies between sectors continue to be investigated.

  • 1640 potentially vulnerable national infrastructure asset sites serving a (pragmatically determined) population threshold range from 10,000 to 25,000 have been identified, most  of which were deemed ‘defended’
  • 530 key infrastructure sites around the country are currently vulnerable to flooding (again within the 10,000-25,000 threshold)
  • infrastructure sectors are at different stages in the resilience building process, some have yet to complete their analysis. Losing electricity or hospitals are particularly acute ‘worst case’ scenarios impacting communities
  • the electricity industry will invest £250 million (2015-2021) to protect the network against flooding; sites serving more than 10,000 people which are not protected against an extreme flood have been surveyed and have a plan in place to deploy temporary barriers if required and feasible
  • work with the water industry to extend analysis to cover all relevant water assets (clean and waste) serving more than 10,000 people continues
  • transport is vulnerable, investments are under way
    • Network Rail is planning to spend £900 million over the next three years
    • Highways England plans to invest £78 million over the next five years to reduce the risk of flooding on major roads, and a further £300 million as part of its Road Investment Strategy
    • Gatwick Airport following flood-related disruption in December 2013, commissioned an independent review of its vulnerability to flooding and is allocating a further £10 million above and beyond the original £20 million investment in flood resilience over the next 2 years
    • the Department for Transport promote closer working between ports and Local Resilience Forums to improve overall awareness of, and preparation for, severe flooding and port resilience groups are being set up along the East Coast

(thankfully health and safety is much stricter in the UK)

UK flooding: temporary flood defenses

Permanent flood defenses are clearly preferable to temporary defenses. In some instances, however, permanent solutions either do not offer value for money or cannot improve the situation before next winter. Therefore temporary defenses play an immediate role in strengthening the resilience of local infrastructure: temporary barriers do not provide the same level of protection as permanent defenses; failure rates typically are 20-30%, although this can be reduced by good advanced planning

      • no type of temporary barrier is universally deployable in all situations, and generally they cannot withstand large wave action. All leak to a certain extent and therefore need to be supplemented by pumps (annex 8 illustrates a range of temporary flood defenses such as tube, filled container, frame barrier, flexible free standing and rigid free standing)

 

      • once installed, successful ongoing deployment requires additional support including security against theft and vandalism as well as health and safety measures such as lighting and access maintenance to surrounding homes and businesses

 

      • thorough site-specific pre-planning as well as the availability of sufficient numbers of trained staff or volunteers is critical to success (as are training exercises)

 

      • engineered hard flood defenses can only ever be part the solution. Benefits of natural flood management has been seen ie in Pickering, North Yorkshire and Holnicote in Somerset. The Government’s future 25 year plan for the environment will look at strengthening the role of local partners, bringing them together to integrate flood management with water planning at a catchment level.

 

 

UK flooding: improving incidence response

  • £12.5 million are being invested through the Environment Agency in temporary flood barriers, mobile water pumps and incident command vehicles – stored in strategic locations across the country for fast response
  • £0.75 million are being invested to provide maintenance grants to enable nationally deployable flood rescue teams to maintain their equipment
  • a single register of national flood response assets will be kept up to date and will be viewable through ResilienceDirect; developing new capabilities in line with responders’ requirements.
  • an operations centre will be established (as identified in the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015) bringing together relevant organisations, including the armed forces
  • Defra in collaboration with other government departments will establish a standard operating model for local responders and the Environment Agency will work with Local Resilience Forums to identify opportunities to embed good practice in their flood response plans

 

UK flooding: flood defense and urban development

  • ultimate aim is to deliver flood defense levels for the Core Cities similar to that of London, Sheffield is the pilot project which, if successful will be broadened to the other core cities

 

The National Flood Resilience Review also contains interesting case studies in annex 4 which you may be interested to read especially if you are in or near to Carlisle, Calder Valley, Oxford, Exeter, Great Yarmouth, London (Teddington to Thames Barrier).   References

Much excellent work continues across the country including the setting up of local Flood Action Groups, Community Resilience Projects (i.e NYLRF) and flood prevention excercises such as

However, it also pays to be better prepared.There is a lot that can be done. If your’re an individual start at our preparedness hub, if you’re a small business start at business preparedness. Addition: EFRA report, Future flood prevention; Second Report of Session 2016–17

Be prepared, not scared.

Have a good week.

Monika     thank you for sharing, raising awareness for Emergency Preparedness!

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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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

 thank you for sharing and raising awareness for Emergency Preparedness

 

 

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

updated 03/05/2017 : new government guidance issued “Recognising the terrorist threat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Shelter-in-place procedure – emergency plan

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

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

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

Once securely at your shelter-in-place location

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

 

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

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

Finally, check out Protecting Crowded Places from Terrorism resources and also  ‘Project Griffin’ which provides briefing events to increase public and staff awareness to business of how best to reduce and respond to the most likely types of terrorist activities. Also out now (Oct 2016) is the Independent Review of London’s Preparedness to respond to a major terrorist incident.

Monika

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

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

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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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Resilience and Preparedness Roadblocks: what stops us?

updated 14Sep2016

Next month, September is National Preparedness Month (NPM or NatlPrep) in the US with many campaigns to raise public awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Here in the UK, year on year, regular local events (ie the #30days30waysUK2016 September campaign) are also becoming more numerous and around November the EA (and related bodies) raise awareness for National Flood Preparedness. For me this is encouraging to witness for I believe that awareness and engagement for preparedness has still some way to go. More individual and community action is needed to build a robust culture of preparedness and resilience.

What are the stumbling blocks? Why aren’t we all much better prepared?

Despite the best intentions most of us fail to do enough, unless you’ve been personally affected in the past, for example during the recent floods.

Why is that? Where does this apathy and narrow shortsightedness come from?

source: http://d.ibtimes.co.uk/en/full/1362238/aerial-flooding-01.jpg

Well, I recently read Robert Clifford’s interesting article in The New Scientist “The road to climate hell” and was struck just how easily his analysis also applies to preparedness.

Richard identified 33 ‘dragons’, a metaphor for obstacles or ‘drag-on’ processes that stop us engaging and taking action. Robert’s approach is such a brilliant way to illustrate complex topics that I hope he won’t mind me borrowing and adapting for preparedness.  

1st Dragon family : limited cognition

    • antiquated brains, old hardware and energy conserving software that  have not changed much in 30’000 years. Rather than engage in effort-full anticipation and planning we tend to operate in the comfortable and easy ‘here now’ mode – and that simply makes us slow to act
    • ignorance is bliss they say but not for long and we all should heed Benjamin Franklin who poignantly stated “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail” . Not only do we tend ignore the necessity for preparedness, we often simply do not know what to do and how to go about it. To make matters worse, preparedness is not simply one thing but means different things to different people at different times and also depending on context. Just exactly what the right kind of preparedness is only you can determine (i.e. by starting at our preparedness info hub and begin making your Emergency Preparedness Plan)
    • uncertainty is tricky to navigate, especially in today’s world of ambiguous messages and unpredictable events. Confusion or underestimation may lead to inaction.
    • numbness from complexity overload in today’s environments that we can no longer wholly grasp. Action is unlikely if a dangerous phenomenon or scenario is seen as not immediately causing personal difficulties
    • discounting, a well-known bias or tendency to undervalue future and distant risk
    • optimism bias: I’ll be fine. No, it won’t affect me. I will manage…  
    • fatalism: it’s out of my hands. There is nothing I can do …. confirmation bias: people tend to read and watch media that reinforces their beliefs rather than challenges and educates
    • time is money: when viewing their available time in monetary terms, people tend to skip careful preparedness planning and investments in resources/skills as there is no immediate and clear ‘return-on-investment’
    • perceived inability: preparedness may require extra resources including knowledge, skill or abilities not everyone possesses. Unless there is a physical or mental disability however, most people are capable to reach at least a minimum level of preparedness and connect to wider networks of community resilience

In the article, Richard goes on to discuss six more Dragon Families; i.e. ideologies, various belief systems that inhibit behaviour social comparison, three aspects of a deeply ingrained human tendency dis-credence, four ways of how people stop engaging when thinking ill of others limited behaviours, and …   

Dragon family ‘perceived risk’ – particularly relevant to preparedness

Perceptions linked to risks that may become particularly persistent ‘drag-ons of inaction’

    • Functional risk: will it work? For example: “The kit I just bought, can I rely on it?” You can if you bought it from us for our promise is “ If we stock it – You can depend on it in an emergency”. Functional risk at a personal level is trickier. The best answer is continuous training and active exercising of your preparedness plans
    • Physical risk: will I get hurt? Preparedness may involve special skills training so there may be certain risks.
    • Financial risk: rather than asking is it worth getting prepared and equipped ask “can I afford not to?”  
    • Social risk: other people may notice your commitment to preparedness and may tease although this is becoming less common. Nowadays understanding is growing and prepared people are becoming role models for community resilience.
    • Psychological risk: you may be teased or criticised for preparing – that is short term. You will, however, build confidence in your capacities and further your personal resilience – that is long term.
    • Temporal risk: the time you invest in planning and preparing may be seen as ‘failing to produce results’. That of course depends on what ‘results’ means to you but in preparedness this is most certainly never the case. Any and all preparedness efforts are never wasted and hopefully you will never have to test them all to the full.

 The good part in all this? All these inner/perceptual dragons of inaction can be slain. You’ve already started by simply reading and thinking about them. And so I leave you with an image of the quintessential Dragon Slayer St. George who is the patron saint not only of England but also of Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany and Greece; and of Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice (second to SaintMark) and who has in recent years been adopted as patron saint of Scouts. source: https://web.archive.org/web/20160701211712/https://jbailey2013.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/wikimedia-st-_george_and_the_dragon.jpg Have a great week and good start to September – make it a Preparedness month for yourself, your loved ones and your wider communities. And if you want to delve a little deeper, watch this brilliant VIDEO by The Royal Society, an animation and briefing on unconscious bias adapted by Professor Uta Frith

Monika   thank you for sharing, raising awareness for Emergency Preparedness!

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Hazards and Risks – what’s the difference and why does it matter?

Last week I had an interesting and engaging conversation with a group of young people that were just starting to make their own Emergency Preparedness plans both for their families and their fledgling businesses when the topic of hazards and risks resulted in:

“… but risk is the same as hazard? How are they different?”

Indeed, it’s a common enough confusion, mostly because risk is often defined in terms of hazards so fuzzyness creeps in. Also, a number of different definitions and understandings exist, all depending on who you ask and what their frame of reference is. That does not help practical people that want clear guidance fast.

Luckily, I recently attended a brilliant conference on Risk and Disaster Reduction in London, the UCL IRDR 5th Annual Conference where Sir Mark Walport in his keynote speech on communicating risk and hazards gave an excellent example which I hope he won’t mind me passing on to you. The imagery he used was this:

source: https://www.kidssoup.com/sites/default/files/media/ploverbird-crocodile.jpg

What do you see? A massive hazard. But how about risk? What exactly do you know about the CONTEXT in the above?

How about now?

source http://www.newsiosity.com/sites/default/files/styles/flexslider_image/public/CrocTeeth.jpg?itok=LGwOT9ea

Well, better him than me I’d say for I’m not that brave but you certainly begin to see where this is going:

Talking about hazards is necessary but not sufficient

(as scientists love to point out) and that’s precisely why it matters to draw the distinction.

In order to build better preparedness and resilience, we need to continuously assess and monitor risk, meaning the probability or likelihood of (often complex) scenarios as well as the severity of impact over time. As per Sir Mark’s slide, this concerns

1506UCL-Walport

Professor Sir Mark Walport; Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of Government Science and Engineering Profession at UCL IRDR 2015

hazard: a source of harm or damage

threat: an intent or determination to inflict harm or damage

exposure: the condition of being exposed to harm or damage

vulnerability: the susceptibility to being harmed or damaged

uncertainty: current degree of knowledge as unknown or doubtful

 

To get a better idea what risk assessments and a risk matrix can look like

have a look at the National Risk Register 2015, page 11. Naturally, these high priority risks as currently identified by the UK government change and shuffle in line with the changing situation in the UK and around the world. Keep an eye on regularly published updates and consider the risks particular to your own environment and situation, also in line with any information your local resilience forum can provide. You may also find our extensive preparedness resources useful.

That’s exactly where I left the group of young entrepreneurs and family men and women. However, as with them I also want to stress here:

making a plan is necessary but not sufficient

for – and yes, you’ve heard it all beforeEmergency & Disaster Preparedness: Get a Kit - Make a Plan - Be InformedAnd finally, are you still curious about  The Crocodile and the Plover Bird? It’s a good story.

Have a great week!

Monika


thank you for sharing and helping raise awareness for Emergency Preparedness!

 

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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Preparedness for Power Cuts, Brownouts and Blackouts

updated 09/10/2017

Power failures are common in the wake of storms (BBC) and disasters, man-made or natural; for example floods (Telegraph) and drought (Brazil dries up and blacks out, 2015, Bloomberg) even UK mini heatwaves (Ashbourne News Telegraph). Also see South Australia’s Blackout explained (09/2016 black start)

Power outages can also occur without warning because of faults or accidents.

You may need to shelter-in-place and wait it out or you may have to evacuate (Feb 2015: Liverpool One John Lewis evacuated after power cut as restaurants unable to serve food, Liverpool Echo)

 

Power cuts are predicted to become more frequent, not only causing damage to the economy ($180 billion in the USA) but also affect transport, security and health (Lincoln University). Concerns and discussions on the UK energy safety gap are ongoing (Guardian).

2003 – a memorable year for spectacular power cuts

Looking back, 2003 was a particularly eventful year. In the US and Canada 55 million people were affected during the Great Northeast Blackout, 14th August 2003:   Fortunately, most power cuts last only minutes, but even such short durations can have a substantial impact on you personally as well as business. The London Blackout (28 August 2003) lasted just 34 minutes (BBC) during which  

        • 400 calls were taken by the London Fire Brigade
        • 100 rescues were made
        • all main rail services stopped in London and the South East
        • 60% of London Underground was affected

 If not stranded in lifts or underground, thousands of Londoners and visitors either took to the rain soaked streets or found shelter in candle lit pubs and restaurants. Outages not only happen in summer. They happen every day (DNO live twitter list) and can affect everyone. Most spectacularly and recently again London:

 

What is a Brownout? What to do during a Brownout

source: http://m.epandl.com/0_0_0_0_295_273_csupload_46955312.jpg?u=3094454775Brownouts, the opposite of a power surge, refer to a drop in voltage that can last for minutes or hours. Brownouts  commonly occur either by accident or intentional, for example, when used for emergency load reduction to avert a full blown a blackout.     Common signs of a brownout are      

                • flickering lights
                • rapid switching on/off of appliances
                • sudden computer and internet failure

 Usually harmless, brownouts nevertheless can damage your equipment so when you notice rapidly flickering lights, act immediately and unplug your computers, routers, TV, devices being charged, all appliances etc. During a Brownout, as soon as you notice fluctuations (i.e. when the lights start flickering badly)  

            • switch off and unplug computers, TVs, printers, routers, mobile phones, tablets or any other devices that are plugged in and/or charging
            • reduce your power consumption: switch off anything you do not need
            • be ready for a blackout in case your supply fails to stabilise source: http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/71610000/jpg/_71610198_71610193.jpg

 

Preparedness for a Power Cut – follow these 10 top tips

Know your supplier and how to contact them. Suppliers often host a live power outage map and provide information and support also on twitter. The new emergency number for power cuts is 105 see guidance from your supplier; i.e. UK Power Networks’ Domestic and Business

          • make a checklist/map of all your electrical items that need turning OFF in case of a power cut
          • if you use crucial medical equipment requiring electricity, put yourself on your suppliers priority register
          • alternative communications: keep a plug-in cord telephone for emergencies that does not need electricity; stock spare batteries and power packs for mobile devices
          • alternative power: ranges from power generators to UPS devices (~ 1 hour), batteries and hand-crank or solar operated devices; more see generators

 

What to do during a Power Cut – NEW! CALL 105*

Is it just you? Check your fuse box to see if any have tripped – there could be a problem with your property’s wiring and you may need to call an electrician. If your neighbor is also affected, then call your local distribution company to find out if it’s a network problem. Normally, power cuts are locally or regionally based

          • switch OFF all appliances and equipment that may have been in use before the interrupt
          • leave one light switched on to know when the power is restored
          • secure your property; bells and alarms may not work during the outage (manual warning)

 

What to do when Power is restored

          • check all your equipment and appliances
          • only gradually turn your equipment and appliances back on, keeping an eye on possible fluctuations
          • check and and reset all timer switches; i.e. water heating, gas or oil central heating systems, electric clocks

Additional useful resources to understand what happens, the consequences of power cuts and what you must plan and prepare for and how to prepare for and cope with power outages:

      • list of major power outages wiki
      • electric safety HSE
      • will your landline work during a power cut? Ofcom

 Be prepared, not scared. Have a good week.

Monika | @MonikaAlMufti 

This page is also accessed by bit.ly/powercutUK   thank you for sharing and helping raise awareness for Emergency Preparedness!

 

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