Preparing for Disasters: Do You Know Your Hazards?


How prepared are you? September is National Preparedness Month, a time for businesses and individuals to review and reflect on their preparedness for all hazards.

A quick review of your family or company’s disaster preparedness plan can help facilitate planning improvements, training opportunities, or testing policies. In fact, The Joint Commission requires Baylor, as well as all other hospitals, to test their Emergency Operations Plans twice annually.

This month, safety tips, training events and supplies have been distributed around Baylor Health Care System to help foster preparedness for patients and staff. It’s important to be informed, it can save lives.

Part 1:  Do you know your hazards?

At Baylor Health Care System, we plan for all hazards. Hazards include natural hazards such as severe weather, flooding and tornadoes as well as man-made hazards such as power outages, hazardous material spills, and terrorism.

Regardless of where you work and live, knowing the hazards you face is the first step in understanding what to prepare for.

Did you know that Dallas-Fort Worth is located in the infamous “tornado alley?” For those of us who live in this region, it’s very important to know what the outdoor warning sirens mean when they are activated.

This is the biggest and arguably the most important step of the whole preparedness process. We have to know what we are preparing for before putting an emergency plan together.

For many organizations, this is called a hazard vulnerability assessment (HVA). An HVA allows organizations to prioritize and rank the hazards that would be most problematic for their operations.

Similarly, individuals and families should rank the effects that specific types of hazards would have on their household or business.

Here are some questions that might be worth asking yourself when developing an emergency plan:

1.  Do you live or work near an industrial area that uses hazardous materials?

2.  Do you live or work near a flood plain?

3.  What mitigation is in place that will reduce the impact?

4.  What plans are in place at my child’s school?

After you identify some hazards, you’ll be able to put together an applicable emergency plan for those times when disaster strikes. Be prepared.

This blog post was contributed by Nick Sloan, Emergency Management Coordinator at Baylor Health Care System in Dallas, TX.

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Preparing for Disasters: Do You Know Your Hazards?