Preparing for emergencies

Updated 14 November 2018

This guidance helps people, businesses and communities to identify and prepare for the hazards and threats that may disrupt their lives.

1. What risks should you plan for?

Various hazards and threats such as extreme weather and cybercrime could have a big impact on you and your property. They could also affect the services you rely on – such as transport, utilities, communications and financial services.

These resources can help you to be aware of the risks in your local area:

Find out about your council’s emergency plans and services and identify if the roads you use are priority gritting routes, if they are not, then you may need to do some extra planning for winter weather:

2. Prepare yourself for emergencies

These resources help people to quickly prepare for the hazards and threats that may affect them.

Quick and easy preparation:

  • make sure you have suitable insurance, the Association of British Insurers website has useful information on home insurance and flooding insurance
  • think about where you would go and stay – and how you would get there – if an emergency meant that you couldn’t stay at home
  • make an emergency plan or a flood plan and discuss it with your family and friends so they know what to do. Here is an example template (pdf, 205 KB), but you might want to search for a version produced by your Local Resilience Forum
  • put together a ‘grab bag’ of things to take in an emergency

More advanced preparation for flooding:

One of the best ways to improve your resilience to an emergency is to plan with other people. Read more information on how you can get involved in your community’s resilience in section 4 below.

3. Prepare your business for emergencies

These resources enable businesses to identify and prepare for the hazards and threats that may disrupt their operations.

Being more prepared and resilient can give a competitive advantage to your business. The actions you take to make your business resilient will depend on your circumstances and the risks you are comfortable taking. Having assessed these, only you can decide how much time, and possibly money, you want to invest in increasing your resilience. The suggested actions below will get you started, ranging from a free ‘print off and fill-in’ plan to more specialist training.

Quick and easy preparation:

More advanced preparation:

4. Prepare your community for emergencies

These resources enable communities to prepare for the hazards and threats that may disrupt their neighbourhoods.

The Preparing for emergencies: guide for communities (pdf, 285 KB) provides a framework for thinking about why and how you can help your community to be prepared, including:

  • why you should be involved and be prepared
  • what you can do to make it happen in your community
  • what help is available from government to support community preparedness

Local Resilience Forums organise and coordinate the emergency response in your area. You can contact your Local Resilience Forum to find out, or suggest, how you can prepare your community for emergencies.

There are loads of great ‘how-to guides’, case studies and toolkits for community flood planning on the National Flood Forum’s website.

4.1 Developing a plan for your community group

If you are setting up a new community resilience group you should develop a plan for how your group supports the community and the emergency response. These resources can help you plan:

  • a community emergency plan toolkit (pdf, 288 KB) provides a step-by-step guide to help you and your community produce a Community Emergency Plan
  • information on how to develop a community emergency plan in 10 steps is provided by this guide (pdf, 2,024 KB)
  • this community emergency plan template (pdf, 839 KB) provides an outline of the key information plans should include. There is an example plan here
  • parish plan templates are available from Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum
  • you can find information about whether you will need insurance to cover the group’s activities by contacting your local authority
  • if you need funding for something in your plan the Big Lottery Fund and National Lottery Awards for All is a good place to start

5. Volunteering to help the emergency response

There are many ways you can help the emergency response. Many of these will be identified as part of your community emergency planning. Volunteering roles can range from helping out your neighbours, providing advice and a cup to tea, to assisting with search and rescue efforts.

It is important:

  • that you respect the wishes of those affected by an emergency
  • that you do not put yourself in any danger
  • that you do not add extra burden to the efforts of the organised emergency response

Prior to an emergency, try to identify local organisations and charities that you can volunteer with. They can help you identify the roles you can play and develop the knowledge and skills you need to be most effective.

Some volunteering schemes are very specific to emergencies and others are more generic - but they would be called on in the event of an emergency. Here are a few ways you can find the local opportunities to suit your interests and skills:

6. Further information

The Communities Prepared programme started in 2008 to explore ways to support communities in becoming resilient to the range of probable emergencies. The programme seeks to empower communities, businesses, and individuals to harness local resources and expertise to help themselves and their communities to:

  • prepare, respond and recover from disruptive challenges, in a way that complements the activity of Category 1 and 2 emergency responders
  • adapt to longer-term changes and opportunities, in pursuit of their future resilience and prosperity

6.1 Contact us