Just like the infamous mascot Smokey Bear said in the 1947 ad campaign, “Remember... Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires,” only YOU can inspire preparedness and spearhead emergency response plans. The responsibility falls to each of us to protect Tribal lands, homes, families and citizens.
Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.
September is National Preparedness Month—a good time to revisit your family’s home safety and evacuation plans in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. Being prepared can help keep everyone in your family safer.
AMERIND offers the below tips in honor of National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within the Department of Homeland Security:
- Make a family emergency communication plan and include pets. Identify an out of town emergency contact to coordinate information with family/friends.
- Check on neighbors.
- Keep an emergency kit wherever you spend time: home, car, work, etc.
- Download the FEMA App (fema.gov/mobile-app) and set up local alerts.
- Listen to local officials by radio, TV, or social media and take action.
- Practice your preparedness plans with a drill or exercise.
- Take a first aid class so you can help until first responders arrive.
It’s also helpful to take actionable steps by following FEMA’s 2017 weekly themes:
- Week 1, September 1-9: Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends
- Week 2, September 10-16: Plan to Help Your Neighbor and Community
- Week 3, September 17-23: Practice and Build Out Your Plans
- Week 4, September 24-30: Get Involved! Be a Part of Something Larger
For more in-depth weekly guides for National Preparedness Month, visit: www.ready.gov/september.
Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out!
Fire Prevention Week is observed October 8-14. In a fire, seconds count. Seconds can mean the difference between residents of your community escaping safely from a fire or having their lives end in tragedy.
That’s why this year’s Fire Prevention Week theme: “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” is so important. It reinforces why everyone needs to have an escape plan.
Below, AMERIND and the National Fire Protection Agency offer some tips to keep your family, home and belongings safe:
- Draw a map of your home(PDF) with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
Tribal Governments and Businesses: ‘Get Ready’ During National Preparedness Month
As part of National Preparedness Month, AMERIND Risk and the Federal Emergency Management Agency encourage every Tribal business to develop a game plan. Is your Tribal business prepared for emergencies? Every second counts during a crisis, so it's important to plan ahead.
Draft an emergency action plan.
Create an emergency action plan—a written document that outlines employee actions during workplace emergencies. A well-developed plan that’s easily understood by employees will likely result in fewer and less severe injuries and less damage to Tribal facilities.
Take critical questions into account when preparing your emergency action plan:
- What types of emergencies have occurred at your business facilities in the past?
- What types of severe weather conditions is your geographic region prone to—wildfires, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, hail, extreme fog, etc.?
- What incidents could result due to a system failure?
- What emergencies could be caused by employee error (one of the biggest causes of workplace emergencies)?
- What incidents could be caused by employee oversight, such as failure or neglect to clean up hazardous chemical spills?
Train your team to handle emergency response and communication.
Training should be offered when you develop your initial plan and to all new hires. Employees should be retrained when duties or responsibilities under the plan change, or if a new facility layout, equipment, or hazards are introduced.
Educate employees about the types of emergencies that could occur. Be sure they understand the elements of your emergency action plan and any specific site hazards. In addition, training should address:
- Who will be in charge,
- Notification procedures,
- How to locate family members in an emergency,
- Evacuation and sheltering procedures,
- Location and use of emergency equipment, and
- Shutdown procedures.
FEMA also recommends a crisis communication plan. This describes how your organization will communicate with employees, local authorities, customers, and others during and after a disaster.
Employees need information about reporting to work. Emergency responders, the general public, and neighboring businesses should be provided with a briefing on the nature of the emergency.
Practice drills regularly.
Go beyond planning and actually practice your plan on a regular basis. Employees should be familiar with navigating escape routes and areas of refuge. Frequent drills also remind staff of the importance of hallways and doorways always remaining free of obstructions.
Many workplaces that successfully avert incidents escalating to serious tragedy conduct frequent drills and exercises—some investing in sophisticated simulations to ensure that everyone knows what to expect and what to do.