Thursday, June 30, 2022

It Takes a Community to Prepare for and Respond to Emergencies

Emergency preparedness isn’t limited to government and residents. Businesses should be prepared for disaster situations as well. The whole community approach to emergency management pulls together the entire community to prepare for and respond to crisis situations.

Prepare.

By being prepared, businesses can respond quickly and even help the community in a time of need.  After a disaster, statistics show that 25% of businesses will not open again. However, having an emergency plan in place will allow you to lessen the financial impact of the disaster and reopen your business quickly. The U.S. Small Business Administration is a good place to start when learning how you can prepare your business for emergencies.

Respond.

Businesses should have a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) in place to ensure that they are capable of conducting their essential functions and processes under all threats and conditions. A COOP may include identified risks and a step-by-step guide over how to respond to various emergency events. A business toolkit may also store emergency messages for websites and social media to keep your customers advised.

Learn how to create a business continuity of operations plan to keep your business running during a disaster or emergency and create a business emergency toolkit for emergency situations.

Recover.

Disasters take their toll on people and communities in big ways. Making sure you and loved ones are safe after a disaster is priority number one, but for business owners, making sure they are able to rebuild after a disaster is next in line.

Successful recovery steps include:

  • Communicate with employees, customers and stakeholders.
  • Contact your insurance company.
  • Use your online presence to help the community.
  • Check your backed-up data.
  • Evaluate your business model.
  • Plan ahead, this is time to update your existing emergency plan, with lessons learned.
  • Know who to call, with large events FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Association may be able to help.
  • Assess your vendors.

Together, the City of Southlake and its business partners can create a resilient Southlake.

How You Can Be Prepared for Emergencies

The City of Southlake is prepared for emergency situations and ready to respond should disaster strike. How can you help? Make sure your family is ready with an emergency kit, a household plan and by staying informed.

Every home should have an emergency kit that includes enough food, water and supplies to last your entire household for 3-7 days. Your kit should also include a flashlight, first aid items, cell phone chargers and prescription medications. You can buy premade kits, however, it is beneficial to create a kit that is personal to your family’s likes and dislikes. Many families have pets. The emergency kit should also take into consideration those needs as many shelters may require your pets to be secured in a kennel or with a leash. It is important to keep your entire emergency kit inside an easy-to-carry container such as a plastic bin or a duffel bag. This allows for quick transport in the event you need to evacuate your home.

Planning for emergencies is also crucial. Each household should have a plan to evacuate their home and to shelter in place. Since disasters are not normally planned, have a meet-up place designated since many times emergencies happen when family members are away from the home, such as at school or work. Also is it recommended that you identify a contact from out-of-state, that each member can check-in with. That way if local communication is down, it is possible that a text may reach someone outside of the affected area. Don’t forget to consider your family’s specific needs like pets as well as how you will communicate and reconnect if separated. Having family photos and pet photos readily available can assist with reunification.

Stay in the know. The City of Southlake Office of Emergency Management recommends all Southlake residents and businesses sign up for Alert Southlake, our free emergency notification system. This tool ensures you receive pertinent emergency notifications based on your preferences of phone call, text message or email so that you and your family can respond quickly.

With your help, we can make sure Southlake is prepared for emergency situations. Learn more about how you can prepare your family for emergencies at www.CityofSouthlake.com/BePrepared. Sign up for Alert Southlake at www.CityofSouthlake.com/AlertSouthlake.

We’re Prepared: Emergency Management in Southlake

We can’t always predict when disaster will strike, but we’re prepared if it does.

Planning

From severe weather to man-made hazards, the City of Southlake has multiple plans in place that address procedures before, during and after disaster or large-scale emergency events. The Office of Emergency Management guides City departments through planning processes so that we have plans that use an all-hazards approach, easily molded to fit most situations.

  • Our Emergency Operations Plan is validated by the State and is reviewed every five years.
  • Each City department has a Continuity of Operations Plan, which allows them to continue essential functions no mater what the situation.
  • Each facility has an Emergency Action Plan, that allows staff to respond to many common emergencies and facilitates evacuation and shelter in place situations.
  • Every large City event in Town Square requires an event action plan that provides response to the increased number of people within the area.
  • We have a certified disaster debris plan that allows us to plan accordingly for large debris generating events such as flooding and tornadoes.

Notification

The City of Southlake operates six outdoor warning sirens that sound during severe weather or life threating events. The sirens are placed strategically throughout the City and are designed to warn people who are in common outdoor areas such as parks and shopping centers to go inside and seek more information.

The City also communicates emergency information with citizens and businesses registered for Alert Southlake. This system allows us to send rapid notifications via phone call, text or email. These notifications can range from severe weather notifications, road closures, to other emergencies such as closures and boil water notices.

Response

When a disaster strikes, the City operates and Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The EOC, under guidance of the emergency manager and city manager, brings together highly trained City staff and state-of-the-art technology to coordinate resources, information and crisis and emergency risk communication to strengthen our City’s ability to detect and respond to threats.

The City also participates in associations such as Northeast Fire Department Association (NEFDA) and Public Works Emergency Response Team (PWERT) that allows us additional resources and manpower during emergency events. These affiliations allow us to respond and recover much faster, becoming a more resilient community.

Learn how the City has planned for various emergency situations by visiting the Southlake Office of Emergency Management’s home page or if you have a question, contact Emergency Manager Amanda Meneses at ameneses@ci.southlake.tx.us.

September is National Preparedness Month. Are you prepared?

Sometimes emergencies and disasters happen when we least expect them and sometimes we have a little bit of a heads up that trouble is on the way. We can’t always prevent disasters from happening, but we can be prepared to deal with them. Having a plan is key.

In the City of Southlake, the Office of Emergency Management, OEM, works diligently to maintain and update a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. Being rated with an advanced preparedness profile by the State of Texas, the City of Southlake’s plan outlines more than 25 different sections with plans to address everything from sheltering, evacuation, search and rescue, debris clean up, as well as the best ways to communicate important information to residents before, during and after the disaster.

National Preparedness Month is more than recognizing how the City is prepared to respond to a disaster, it’s also a good reminder of how you can be prepared too.

“Disasters are always hard to anticipate and really be prepared for, but having a plan can make a big difference,” notes Southlake Emergency Management Coordinator Amanda Meneses. “It’s important to be prepared, and not just in the month of September. The OEM is ready to respond, but there are a few things residents can do on their own to help them prepare.”

  • Have an emergency preparedness kit that will last your family for at least 72 hours, don’t forget to plan for pets.
  • Know how you will communicate with your family during an emergency and have a designated meeting place. Having a relative outside of the area as a known point of contact is recommended.
  • Learn basic lifesaving skills like CPR and first aid. You can take both of the classes with Southlake DPS. The OEM also offers classes on demand for various emergency management and preparedness skills.
  • Take the time to double check your insurance policies and make sure you have the right coverage for the area.
  • Know how to shut off the water and gas in your home.
  • If you don’t already have an emergency fund, start saving for one. Dealing with an emergency can add up quickly.

The Office of Emergency Management is a great resource for residents. Visit their website, or email them at OEM@cityofsouthlake.com to learn more about classes and how you can be prepared.