A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

Don’t Forget Your Emergency Plan

by on October 19, 2016

Every year in October I am grateful for our local fire departments. In my region, many of them are volunteers. I am reminded of their service because of their campaign to remind the public to change the batteries in our smoke alarms. I am sorry to say that without these reminders, both the smoke detector and the fire fighters would be ‘out of sight and out of mind.’

I have started another public service campaign in my library, linked to this broader one. Reminded of the threat of fire, I use this to prompt me to review my library’s emergency plan. Each year I re-read my plan, reflecting back on the past year not only in my library, but in the world. I consider if there has been any significant events that indicate I need to alter or add to my plan. For example, for a number of years tornadoes were unheard of in my region. Then, in one year, we had several touchdowns. That year, I added tornadoes to the plan. Most importantly, I examine names and phone numbers. In this world of competing cell phone plans, contact information can change. So, each October I make sure all names and phone numbers are accurate and up to date.

At the same time, I update my staff phone list. Working off a spreadsheet, I update the people who typically work on a given day along with their phone numbers and emergency contact. I then verify the information for who to notify in case of weather related closing. For ease, I also include the contact information for some other key players for the library: the head of facilities, the book keeper, the janitorial staff, and the head of the library board. This information is then assembled into a packet. I take home a packet and provide copies to key staff. One copy remains in the library.

Over the years, I have never needed to utilize the emergency plan. Though we once did have a car drive six feet into our building. That year, car accident was added to the plan, just in case it happened again. I have however, frequently appreciated my snow packet.  Having everything in one place is convenient, but having the contact list also sorted by work schedule has avoided many mishaps when the concerns of weather closings were distracting. I believe most libraries have these important documents, but linking an annual review of the information to something has helped us assure that these documents get updated.

Tags: , , , ,