During catastrophic flooding last year and devastating wildfires this summer, a self-selected group of people and businesses did better than others. They rescued more critical belongings, saved lives, prevented property damage and recovered sooner.
What did they have in common? Emergency preparedness plans shared with all who might be affected: family members, emergency services personnel, employees and neighbours. News coverage of wildfires and floods are powerful reminders of the need to assess readiness, particularly since experts say few are prepared. Roughly two-thirds of North American households have insufficient plans and materials in case of disaster. Businesses clearly fall short, too: one in four Canadian companies never open their doors following a disaster.
Developing a plan needn’t be time-consuming, and effective plans don’t have to be lengthy. Begin by accessing the Department of Public Safety website to assess the types of emergencies likely to be encountered in particular areas. Then prepare and distribute a document that discusses:
- Personal contact details: List contact and/or identifying information for those who may be affected – family members, employees, pets (chip or tag numbers). Designate an emergency contact outside the immediate area to act as a point person during an emergency. Share the plan with that person. Also, designate someone on site to lead emergency preparedness plan activation.
- Organization contact details: List contact information for all organizations likely to be involved in responding to a disaster at your location: emergency response organizations, insurance companies, and local shelters. Companies should list additional office locations, vendors and suppliers.
- Important documents: List important documents, copy them and place copies in secure locations that are identified in the plan. Documents may include deeds, titles, wills, financial information and insurance policies.
- Survival kits. The Canadian Red Cross and the Department of Public Safety maintain lists of recommended survival kit items (often including cash in case of power outages). Note kits’ locations in the plan and store each in easy-to-carry, “grab and go,” water-resistant bags or backpacks. Include a battery-operated or hand-crank radio to track news if power fails.
- Action plan: Map out both evacuation plans and shelter-in-place plans. Outline escape routes, on-site shelter areas, survival kit pick-up and central meet-up spots to ensure all are accounted for. Create lists of crucial tasks to complete in emergencies, such as shutting down machinery, turning off natural gas, checking the premises for stragglers, notifying emergency responders, next steps for disaster aftermath and more.
Paul Davis companies recently created helpful flyers with more detailed critical information for homeowners (PD EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS PLAN – Homeowners) and businesses (PD EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS PLAN – Business) preparing for disasters. For all those who suffer damage despite planning, Paul Davis stands ready with rapid property services and restoration. For immediate help, call 1-800-661-5975.