“Contingency planning” is a term widely used in security, and much of the job is exactly that – planning for disaster, and then trying to avoid it or prevent it from happening. If it does happen, however, there also needs to be a plan for how to respond to it, and that can be a grueling task.
I thought I’d talk a little bit about fire today, since that is the kind of thing most people are likely to encounter at one stage or another, and because it is one of the most costly and most demoralizing things that can happen to a person, whether it’s at home or in the workplace.
Properly planning out what to do if a fire occurs, and what kind of preventive measures that should be in place is all important. Many, many countries have government regulations, guidelines or even laws that will tell you the minimum effort you have to make in your own home to prevent fire, or to prevent loss of life and/or limb if a fire should occur. That is nice, but it’s almost always not enough. If you haven’t given the matter enough thought, then you could be in serious trouble if something should happen, and relying on luck alone never did anyone any good,
Contingency planning at home:
You like, and we like, bullet lists, so here comes a good one. It’s not long and it won’t be hard to follow, but it could make sure your bacon comes away from a fire without being too crispy. That sounds a little weird… But whatever. Here it is.
- Have a plan. What do you need to do if you have to get out of the house real fast? It doesn’t matter if you’re planning for a house fire or a landslide – get it on paper.
- Map out your house or apartment. Find out where you need to place smoke detectors. Any room that is normally closed, or doesn’t have open connections with other rooms should have is own smoke alarm. That’s something most home owners overlook.
- Inventory. Make a list of the stuff you have. Remember that while other people’s stuff is shit, your shit is stuff, so have your shit together. You don’t need to write down every little pad of post-it’s or pencils, but get the big stuff on there, at least.
- Put together a bail-out bag. Change of clothes for everyone, sweaters included. Toiletries and other things you might need for a couple of nights if you can’t stay in your house. Try to place it somewhere you can grab it as you run away. Remember, though – getting yourself and others out when shit hits the fan is the number 1 priority!
- Make a couple of calls. Where? Well, one to your local fire department, and ask them what their estimated ToA to your address is, from the time someone calls 911 (or your country’s equivalent). Do the same with the PD. that way, you’ll know how long you have to last on your own before help arrives. Usually, they’ll quote you a time a little above what their real response time will be, which is a good thing for you as well, since it gives you a little leeway in your planning.
- Last on this list, but no less important, is maintenance. You you’re going to have any hope of your contingency planning being effective at all, then you need to maintain both the plan and your equipment. Make sure your smoke alarms are working- check’em every month, update your inventory and your “bail-out bag”, and if you have a large family, you could do worse than conducting a fire drill every now and then. Every 3 or 6 months, for example, some time when everyone’s at home.
Contingency planning isn’t all about fire, of course, a business might plan for everything from a fire to a computer breach, and one of their main tools would be security personnel. That doesn’t really apply to the home turf, of course, and so we’ve decided to focus on fire planning for now, and at least in this article. I’m sure we’ll come back to it later.
In the last article, we talked about access control. It would be a good policy to include that record of keys and access on your fire inventory, in order to keep a solid record of access to the house, and where keys (and perhaps the code & password to the alarm system?) are, and who has them. Anyone, for that matter, with keys to the house should be familiar with your fire drills and the bail-out bag(s)!
[box type=”important”]Check out the other articles in the Security 101 series, where we discuss all aspects of basic home security. It’s pretty great! As always, leave a comment if you have thoughts or questions – we read all comments and answer all questions! [/box]