I hope that this blog finds you safe and well. As we travel through these new and difficult times, it is in all our best interests to always be prepared for all things. Now is the time to re-evaluate our personal and professional lives. Since things have changed so dramatically in the last month, it is time to reflect and maybe think outside our own boxes as we prepare for our next challenge. It could be in the form of unemployment, round two of a debilitating epidemic or pandemic, storms, or budget cuts. So, think like a chess player and be several steps ahead at all times. Be prepared and be professional!
Here are eight key points to keep in mind for water utility emergency preparation:
This always has to be at the forefront. Being safe in your daily operations lends itself to being safe during emergency situations. Safety should be integrated into all of your plans, standard operating procedures (SOPs) and operations. How are you going to accomplish your goals without safety being central to your plans?
- Build/Review Your Plans and SOPs
Form a committee and include others as you build and tweak your plans. Have this same committee review these again after each emergency event. You will find that this document will become an ever changing and improving master plan for operations and disasters, for your department and perhaps your entire community.
- Bring Others In
Include other departments and maybe citizens who serve on other boards to be on this committee. All these people will bring a different perspective to your plan. You don’t have to include all of their ideas but keep an open mind because they may offer something you haven’t even thought about. Plus, they’ll learn from you and learn of all your responsibilities. They may become your greatest supporters! Remember – you may find that you will have multiple additional meetings as an emergency is in progress. Plan your work and work your plan.
- Develop Checklists
Build your plans and include checklists – there could be many of them. They should cover all the items necessary to complete your preparations. Make sure that you include committee members when the checklists are passed out. Give the members a definite deadline to go over their checklist and report back, no more than 24 hours. In some cases, it might be only a few hours between meetings, depending on the disaster.
- What do I plan for?
That’s easy. The answer is everything! You should have a fairly good idea of what you need to keep on hand on a daily basis but should you order a little more? As a former director of public works, I would always have a minimum of two clamps and two couplings for every type and size of pipe. Of course, now you can order wide range couplings and clamps and they will fit everything you have in your system. Take an inventory and if you need something, don’t wait to order more. It’s better to have extras rather than not enough. You have to think about re-supplying during or after a disaster and what kind of difficulties you’ll face trying to get supplies. Better to be well prepared!
- Other needs
This could be a large list, but here goes:
- Clamps and couplings
- Sand and stone
- Barricades and signs
- Pumps and motors
- Extra fuel, food, and water for your crews
- Gloves and masks
- Places for your crews to rest
- Communication equipment
- Places to move your equipment (e.g. if you need to relocate)
Keep thinking about what else you can include.
You may find that developing an evacuation plan is in your organizations best interests but this is a huge undertaking and should not be taken lightly. It will become more than you ever thought possible.
- Survival and Recovery
In all your plans, you must plan for not only survival of yourself, your crews, your town, and its people. You must also plan for your recovery; not only repairs but also improvements. Learn from your shortcomings, and make changes with your committee to your prep plans and post them. Tweak those SOPs we discussed earlier.
We know that you will be presented with challenges both big and small, that’s life, but do your very best for all of these challenges, and make sure you are prepared!
“Remember it’s not if, it’s when!” Creek Stewart
By Doug Riseden, HYMAX Technical Support Manager for Mueller Water Products