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September 28, 2021
National Preparedness Month (NPM) is an observance held each September by Ready.gov (FEMA’s public service campaign) to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. This year’s theme is "Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.” As it does each year, NPM encourages and reminds Americans to be prepared for disasters or emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities. Homeowners, families, communities, and businesses can use this opportunity to find ways to help others understand more about preparing for disasters and reducing risks to health and the environment.
In an emergency, every second counts, making it crucial to have a game plan in case a disaster strikes. For 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put into perspective how unpredictable disasters are and how far-reaching their impact can be, emphasizing the need to be ready for disasters on a national, community, organizational, and individual level. For four weeks, National Preparedness Month highlights easy-to-follow steps that can be taken to improve preparedness. Here is everything you and your team need to know about disaster preparedness.
Steps to Preparedness
Each week in September, the 2021 Ready.gov campaign has focused on a different aspect of preparedness for individuals, families, and communities. The steps are as follows:
Step 1: Make a Plan Individuals are encouraged to talk to friends and family about how they will communicate before, during, and after a disaster. Organizations should have similar plans to be able to contact and support team members in the case of emergencies. Make sure to update your plan based on the Center for Disease Control recommendations due to COVID-19.
Step 2: Build a Kit Gather supplies that will last for several days after a disaster for everyone living in the home. Don't forget to consider the unique needs each person or pet may have in case there is a need to evacuate quickly. Update kits and supplies based on recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control.
Step 3: Low-Cost, No-Cost Preparedness Your team members should act to limit the impact that disasters may have on their families. They should know the risk of disasters in their area, learn how to make their homes stronger in the face of storms and other common hazards, and check their insurance coverage to make sure it is up-to-date.
Step 4: Teach Youth About Preparedness Encourage team members to talk to their kids about preparing for emergencies and what to do in case they are separated, and offer reassurance by providing information about how they can get involved.
Disaster Prep Tips for Your Organization
Organizations also need to prepare for disasters proactively in order to protect their employees in case a disaster takes place. How quickly an organization is able to get back to business after an earthquake, a terrorist attack, a tornado, or a flood often depends on emergency planning and preparation done before the disaster strikes. It is much harder to organize and distribute resources after an emergency has occurred, so the advanced establishment of such resources is imperative. Here are important tips for preparing for a disaster:
Know Your Risks
Listing potential emergencies and ranking them in regards to importance and likelihood is essential to knowing what to do and what resources to invest in. For instance, you might not need to spend money on hurricane planning if your facility is not near a coastal area, nor should you spend a lot of time planning for earthquakes if your facility is not located in an earthquake-susceptible region. However, this doesn't mean that you should totally ignore these risks. Rather, carry out a risk assessment to determine disasters that are likely to face you.
Risk assessment should be based on an all-hazards approach for the hazards affecting your organization. A risk matrix can help you identify the areas where investment is most needed. Using the appropriate matrix, the facility or security manager can categorize each risk or emergency based on the impact it would have if it occurred and on the likelihood of the event happening in your area. Using a risk matrix to evaluate all the potential emergencies your organization may face will give you a head start on many things. You can then meet with the management and establish a relief fund in readiness for any probable disaster.
Build a Response Team
Many disaster response plans are created in a vacuum, with no input from the end-users. That is the wrong approach to tackling an emergency. In today's environment, every individual in the organization may have a role as a kind of first responder, who is expected to take action towards overcoming the disaster. Disaster response plans should be the product of an inclusive team instead of a single individual or a small group of responders.
Putting together a team of subject matter experts from different departments helps in determining the overall span of the plan. This includes a cycle of the four phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Mitigation involves preventing disasters and minimizing the effects if an event occurs. Preparedness consists of identified efforts to prepare for an event. Response entails plans and efforts to respond safely to the event, and recovery is about the actions needed to return your facility back to its normal operations. As an organization, you should ensure that all your employees or a significant number of them are involved in disaster response planning.
Establish an Evacuation Plan
Designate primary and secondary evacuation routes and exits for your employees. Make sure that routes and exits are well lit, clearly marked, and easily accessible. Create an evacuation plan in advance and designate an outside meeting place where everyone can gather and be accounted for as they evacuate. Include individuals in need of assistance in your emergency preparedness guide.
Establish a Relief Fund
In the aftermath of a disaster, your organization needs to be able to help impacted team members rebuild and recover from the potentially devastating effects of the disaster. A disaster relief fund can boost morale and encourage your internal communities to contribute directly to the support of fellow team members. Establishing a relief fund can alleviate the stress that disasters put on members within your organization and allow them to stay focused on recovering from the event.
If your company is interested in starting a relief fund, consider establishing a fund with Emergency Assistance Foundation today. As a financial first responder, we are resourceful and fearless in ensuring that financial assistance reaches individuals in need, no matter the unique circumstances involved. Once you establish a fund, you can also launch an Immediate Response Program (IRP) in the event of a qualified disaster to provide small grants quickly and efficiently. This is a unique, low-cost program that awards small grants (< $1,000) quickly in times of large-scale disasters.
By establishing a Fund with us today, your organization can assist members of your team affected by disasters. Relief fund grants can help impacted individuals pull through difficult times and start on the path toward recovery. If you’d like to learn more about how your organization can help, you can watch this short video, learn additional information about launching an IRP, or contact us. We look forward to helping you make a difference for those who need it most!