A common mistake that people make when preparing for a disaster, whether at home or at work, is to get bogged down with the details. While it is great to have a plan that accounts for every detail of a particular potential disaster, you need to keep in mind that the bigger the plan is, the less familiar everyone will be with it. Also, there are so many different disasters and unforeseen circumstances within those disasters that there is no way to create a plan to deal with every detail–the key to emergency preparedness is to create a framework and a methodology to deal with any emergency.
Elements of an Effective Emergency Response Plan
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety recommends that an effective emergency response plan should include basic procedures for every emergency that is a real threat to your location, a list of available resources, a list of personnel (including contact information and areas of responsibility), floor plans and larger maps showing evacuation routes and technical information. These are good guidelines to keep in mind, but you should also bear in mind that communication and a recovery plan should also be part of your disaster plan.
Applying Disaster Planning Principles to Your Home
The same principles that are part of a corporate disaster plan should be in play in a personal disaster plan. What emergencies are likely to hit your home? Unless you live next to railroad tracks or a chemical plant, you probably can skip the procedures for the chemical spill, but you’ll probably want a plan for fire and tornadoes.
A list of available resources can be important in a home emergency situation, particularly if you can spell out on that list where to find those resources in case your memory fails in the heat of the moment. The list of cell phone numbers can be helpful if you have family unaccounted for when the disaster hits. Maps with evacuation routes and a meeting place, like the store down the street or the big maple tree two houses down can be very helpful, too. Your communication plan should provide multiple methods for getting information during a crisis (TV, cell phone, weather radio, etc). A list of numbers to call during recovery, like insurance agents, handymen, etc. can be very helpful to have in the disaster plan as well.
Having a general emergency response plan with most of the key elements in place can help you to deal with an emergency, even if you couldn’t foresee the specifics of the emergency. By staying calm and sticking to your plan, surviving and recovering from an emergency will be much easier for you.