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.
“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.
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Skyscrapers, tall buildings, tower blocks – they’re not the same in many respects1 . Each fire is unique. Yet here I generalize, looking at it from a residents or visitors perspective which is not so different both today and in the past. The basic impact on people is the same: they need to
GET OUT – STAY OUT – CALL FOR HELP
…and be able to receive it in a timely and effective manner…
… for consequences can be tragic as illustrated by the UK’s worst tower block fire 2013, Lakanal House in Camberwell which was caused by a faulty television set killing six people. A few years later a faulty tumble dryer caused a massive blaze in another tall building, this time in Shepherd’s Bush:
Thankfully no one was seriously hurt thanks to the quick action by the Fire and Rescue Services and campaigns are underway to identify hazardous goods and pull them off the market. Yet more could be done and that’s where promoting Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans and having the right preparedness tools comes in. This affects not just London; tall buildings are many in the UK and with many more to come. Sadly the above is now outdated as the worst disaster now is #GrenfellTower in Kensington and Chelsea, 13/14 June 2017.
While we wait for standards and regulations to change…..
Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans and Preparedness Tools make a lot of sense
Did you know that there are a lot of useful free templates out there that you can use to develop your own Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan? In the UK, by law such so called PEEPs must be issued by employers2 but they are equally useful irrespective of dis/ability. Evacuation may happen because of security issues as well as ‘natural’ causes but for the moment let’s stay with the fire safety theme. Picture yourself on the 14th floor (or make that 42nd floor if you want or need to notch it up), there is a rapidly spreading fire and you must get to a place of safety but can’t take any lifts, there is smoke, alarms and sirens are going off and there are lots of other people (family, friends, neighbours, strangers), chaos and panic.
What are you going to do? How are you going to get out from a tall building and what do you need to do so safely?
Can you simply walk out or would an evacuation chair or a so called Patient Transport Evacuation Sheet be useful? A home emergency kit or so called GoBag you take with you is a good idea as is having a basic Home Fire Safety Pack as a minimum. Specialised first aid for burns is another key topic you will want to look at as it is not usually included in ‘regular’ first aid. Don’t go overboard though and match the tools you chose to the skill set you have. Upgrading your first aid training is highly recommended as is actually practising your personal emergency evacuation plan. Dry runs are not only fun, but help you prepare in a very active way, showing you what works and what needs improving. After all, your life may depend on it.
Emergency Preparedness is the ultimate confidence builder and a race where all win. Start today! Have a great week and thanks for stopping by.
For more Resilience Blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For more on Emergency+Disaster Preparedness head over to our FREE resources at the Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Thank you!
1 terminology varies widely all depending on who you ask. For example, the Emporis Standards Committee,, a leading database for building information worldwide, defines a high rise building as a multi-story structure between 35-100 meters tall and a skyscraper as a multi-story building with an architectural height of at least 100m. A tower block on the other hand can simply be a ‘tall modern building containing numerous floors of offices or flats according to the Cambridge English Dictionary Neither what happens to the underground portion of tall buildings nor the multi-purpose nature of many modern tall buildings and the respective challenges this produces is touched upon 2 if their Fire Safety and Health and Safety assessments have identified persons with special needs under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005
Often 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
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
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)
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
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.
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