Like so many Americans, my heart has been with those in Texas after Hurricane Harvey made landfall over a week ago. Our coasts have seen hurricanes, but not like that. From my desk in the mountains, I’ve made donations and spread the word. A few of our NCN members closer to Houston have organized teams to go help with local efforts. I can’t imagine the damage that our shared space colleagues down there have sustained.
Whether it’s a hurricane in Texas, fires in Alberta, tornados in the Midwest or floods on the east coast, disasters can strike at any time. For those of us who have done all we can, events like Harvey serve as a call to action – are we ready for when disaster strikes? Are our buildings and communities ready?
Here are a few tips to make sure you’re as prepared as you can be:
- Dust off your emergency management plan. Your plan is only as good as the last time it was read. Make sure the protocols are up to date, and you have the latest contact numbers for emergency services.
- Streamline your practice. What’s more likely to be followed: A one-page outline of the most common steps to take in an emergency or a detailed blow by blow description of every possible emergency? Remember, KISS – Keep it simple, sweetheart.
- Fire drill anyone? Procedures don’t do any good when people are panicking, so take 30 minutes to build some muscle memory by doing drills. You may hate them and they may interrupt your otherwise productive day, but drills can save your life.
- Review your business continuity options. In some situations, like Hurricane Harvey, buildings won’t be occupiable for weeks if not months. How will your tenant partners serve their missions without space? Act now to build partnerships with other nonprofit centers in your region, government departments, or private developers, so you have a place to go.
I hope that disaster never strikes your community. Our thoughts are with Houston and all of the other communities affected by Harvey. If you want to contribute to the relief and clean up effort, we recommend giving to the United Way of Houston, a member of our shared space community with three nonprofit centers, here https://www.unitedwayhouston.org/flood.