The businesses located within the City of Live Oak are a vital part of our community. Whether you are involved in retail sales, services, or a profession, you are an important part of our City. As such, the safety of your employees and customers, in the event of a serious emergency or an actual disaster should be your number one concern.
In the event of a disaster are you prepared? Here are some questions for you to consider.
- Do you have adequate insurance on your building? The contents?
- What if you lost your business records?
- What about computer records and data? Do you have a back-up system?
- What about your loss of income?
- What about your employees?
A disaster like a tornado or an accidental fire could totally destroy your business. Your business could be undamaged but in a disaster area without electricity, telephone service, and customers. A major incident could force you to be closed for days or even weeks.
There have been many studies following major disasters and statistics have shown that many businesses, especially smaller ones and family owned businesses never recover from a disaster and never reopen. The reasons for this are usually quite simple. The business lacked a disaster plan and in many cases sufficient insurance coverage. Larger companies and business like big box stores have disaster plans in place and are prepared in case there is a disaster.
As a business owner or manager here are some more questions to consider:
- Do you have a disaster plan or continuity plan as they sometimes are called?
- Is there an evacuation plan in case of fire? What about accountability?
- What is the safest location in the building in case a tornado warning is issued?
- Are your supervisors and employees trained in emergency procedures?
- Do they know what to do in case of a fire, a bomb threat, and criminal activity like dealing with an armed robbery attempt?
- What about something simple like a broken water pipe? Are supervisors and employees knowledgeable of water shut off valves along with electrical panels?
A business continuity plan or disaster plan, whichever name you want to use, is designed to keep you, your employees, and in many cases your customers’ safe in the event of a serious incident or an actual disaster. Having a plan can save lives and possibly your business.
A business disaster preparedness plan checklist is available and can be downloaded by clicking on the link below:
This checklist will take you through the basic steps in developing a plan from determining your potential hazards, developing a plan, training, handling emergencies, and finally recovery actions.
A sample business disaster plan is also available and can be downloaded by clicking on the link below:
The Office of Emergency Management is available to help any business owner with preparing and putting a plan together to suit the needs of your company. In addition training is available from the police department on crime prevention issues and from the fire department on the use of fire extinguishers, basic first aid, how to conduct fire drills, and other topics. The Office of Emergency Management also has many brochures and checklists available on dealing with many issues such as severe weather events, hazardous materials accidents, and other subjects.
The City’s emergency management plan consists of a Basic Plan and Twenty-Two (22) functional annexes that cover various subjects. The basic plan is an overview of our emergency preparedness program and a copy is available for public inspection in the Office of Emergency Management during normal business hours.
The basic plan can also be downloaded as a word document at the link provided below.
The Twenty Two (22) functional annexes are as follows:
- Shelter & Mass Care
- D – Radiological Protection
- Firefighting & Rescue
- Law Enforcement
- Health & Medical
- Public Information
- Public Works & Engineering
- Resource Management
- Direction and Control
- Human Services
- Hazard Mitigation
- Hazardous Materials Response
- Donations Management
- Terrorist Incident Response
Each of the above annexes is assigned to a specific department, functional area, or a specific city staff member. The annexes outline basic requirements for the functional area however specific tasks dealing with these areas are outlined in departmental standard operational procedures or guides.
Disasters can be traumatic for many adults, but they can be very frightening for our children and may cause serious issues for months following the event. In a disaster children may have to leave their home and their daily routine. Most young children are used to getting up in the morning, going to school, playing with their friends, and then going to sleep – in their own bed. A major emergency or a disaster can change all of this. Older children and even teenagers can be traumatized as well following a disaster as they have a better idea of what happened and may remember the events for a longer time.
In the event some kind of major incident occurs from a residential fire to a major disaster like a tornado touchdown, parents need to provide reassurance and guidance based on the age of their children. It is important to explain things to them on their level. Try to let them know things will be OK.
It is important to keep the family together if possible, however this isn’t always a good idea either depending on the situation and the options available. Grandparents, other relatives, and family friends are some possible options for younger children following a disaster. Moving the family away from the disaster area may be a good idea, especially if the outlook for recovery is going to be long-term. These are extremely important and sometimes difficult decisions that have to be made following an event and families sometimes have little time to make them.
This actually is an issue that should be addressed in your family disaster plan ahead of time. What are the family options? Generally speaking it will be easier to plan for this without being in a crisis.
Following any major disaster many state and federal agencies respond to assist with damage assessment and recovery operations, and part of the assistance involves crisis counseling for individuals, children, families, and the emergency responders. Anyone involved in a disaster will be encouraged to contact these agencies following the event. In many cases counselors will be available at local shelters and notices will be posted in many places.
The Office of Emergency Management has numerous brochures on this subject and some are available in both English and Spanish. In addition some can be downloaded from various web sites such as the American Red Cross. See Agency Links by clicking this link.
Are you prepared for a disaster? Take the following Disaster Preparedness Quiz to find out:
The most important thing a citizen can do regarding emergency preparedness is to have a Family Disaster Plan. This concept is not something new and it really is a continuation of fire prevention. Fire departments across the nation promote fire safety issues such as having smoke detectors, testing them on a regular basis and changing the batteries, having an escape plan along with a family meeting place outside the home, and having a practice fire drill. The “Family Disaster Plan” carries this one step further and actually being prepared for a fire should be part of your Family Disaster Plan.
In the event of a major incident or an actual disaster, families may fall into one of three categories. They are:
- Directly affected.
- In directly affected.
- Not affected at all.
Needless to say the lucky ones escaped without any damage and their homes and property is outside of the disaster area. Other folks may not be so lucky! Those citizens directly affected by a disaster may have lost everything to a tornado or a flood. Those in directly affected may have received only minor damage or none at all but are close to the disaster area that they may be without electricity, gas, telephone service, and even water. Depending on the extent of the damage these citizens may be forced to leave their homes as well due to the lack of services. In some cases debris may clog the street and these citizens may not be able to leave the area.
This highlights the necessity for having a Family Disaster Plan, which includes having some basic supplies on hand. Following any type of major incident or a disaster, emergency personnel will be overwhelmed and they will concentrate their efforts on firefighting, search and rescue operations, and treating the injured. Those citizens in directly affected may need to survive on their own and families should include this in their family plan. Generally speaking families should be able to manage on their own for 72 hours.
Many people may already have a fire escape plan and are prepared for some emergencies. They have some basic necessities already on hand like flashlights, a portable radio, extra batteries, first aid supplies, and may be some food items. If so you are off to a good start! A checklist for creating a plan and the supplies can be downloaded by clicking on the item below.
A very important part of your family disaster plan is communications and the ability to keep in touch for all members of the family. In addition, other family members living elsewhere or even in another state may be trying to get in touch with you.
If a disaster occurs during the daytime the family is normally separated. Mom and Dad are at work and Johnny and Susie are away at different schools. Following a tornado your home is located within the disaster area and no one is able to get there. Where is everyone going to go? Where are you going to meet? How are you going to communicate with each other? If you have an answer to each of these questions you're in good shape. Maybe! If one of your answers was to use your cellular phone that may not solve your problem at all. Your cell phone may or may not work. Cellular towers in the area may be damaged and they may become overloaded with calls so no one is getting through. Land lines may work however in some cases these can be overloaded as well with emergency calls and other people calling their relatives. Chances are your communications plan isn’t working too well at this point.
Here is a tip. Local lines maybe swamped with telephone calls but long distance is available. If you dial “1” to get on long distance you may be able to make a call to a friend or relative that lives outside of the immediate area and is in another area code. As part of your family disaster plan select a relative or a friend that lives in another state or area code and if family members become separated and are unable to contact each other, everyone then calls “Aunt Sally” in Dallas and tells her where they are.
All families should have a meeting place outside of the home in case of fire, i.e. by the mailbox or the big tree in the front yard, but also other locations nearby. This could be a friends’ house, a church or school, or some other location that everyone can get to.
In closing the Office of Emergency Management has numerous brochures and checklists on creating a family disaster plan in addition to the checklist available on-line.
In the event of a serious emergency or an actual disaster, citizens may have to evacuate their homes or they may be asked to shelter in-place for several hours because of a hazardous condition. Citizens may not be directly affected by an incident but could be without electricity or other services because of the incident. While this may be a major inconvenience to some of us, citizens with disabilities, access issues, or those with other functional needs may be faced with a life-threatening situation. These categories include:
- Citizens who are mobility impaired.
- Citizens who are blind or hearing impaired.
- Family members who are mentally challenged. (Adults or children)
- Citizens with special medical needs such as being on continuous oxygen.
- Citizens without transportation.
In the event of an evacuation, some of these individuals may require assistance and in some cases, citizens may not have transportation especially at certain times of the day. These individuals may not have a physical impairment however the lack of transportation places these citizens in a separate special category that must be addressed.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) along with local officials across the state have placed a great deal of emphasis on citizens with disabilities, access issues, or those with other functional needs. This is especially true along the Texas Gulf Coast during hurricane evacuations. Locally the City of Live Oak started a program several years ago to help our citizens. The main issue initially is simply to identify these individuals and where they reside in the community.
The Office of Emergency Management has a voluntary program to allow citizens who have a disability, access issues, or some other type of functional need to come forward and complete an enrollment form to join the program. Only limited information is required and enrollment forms are available at the Fire Station during normal business hours or you can download the form below.
The Office of Emergency Management has created a database to identify these citizens by the various areas of the City, such as the Woodcrest or Retama Hollow Subdivisions. Using this method we can determine who lives within an area should some type of emergency occur nearby.
For additional information on this important program citizens should contact the Office of Emergency Management.
Report Power Outages to CPS Energy
Call: (210) 353-HELP (353-4357)
The loss of power is always a major inconvenience for everyone! Power outages are typically caused by severe weather, traffic accidents and sometimes equipment failure. In addition rolling blackouts may occur due to a major malfunction or when power requirements exceed the available power supply within the power grid.
The majority of the power grid in the State of Texas is controlled by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). On rare occasions, when demand exceeds the capabilities of the grid, ERCOT directs providers to reduce their load in order to prevent a major blackout. When this occurs, CPS Energy has a small window of time to reduce power and rolling blackouts may occur quicker than the media can spread the word.
As a reminder, the City of Live Oak does not handle power outages. Please DO NOT contact the Live Oak Dispatch Center regarding outages unless you have an emergency relating to the outage such as downed wires or if a nearby transformer has blown, is smoking or is on fire. In addition, the City cannot provide portable generators, battery packs, oxygen tanks or refill your existing oxygen tank. This is why it is very, very important that citizens who have special needs plan ahead before a problem arises.
How should you prepare for a power outage?
The following tips will help you be prepared for a power outage:
- Flashlights and extra batteries.
- Use candles and matches with care.
- Purchase a battery powered radio with extra batteries
- Turn off any appliances such as stoves, coffee makers, etc. that were on at the time of the outage. If you leave your home before the power is restored this appliance could cause a fire.
- Consider unplugging appliances to avoid damage caused by a power surge. Power surges occur when power is restored.
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed. These units will maintain a safe temperature for a short time provided you don't let the cold air out.
- Keep a reliable thermometer in your refrigerator and freezer. In the event of a lengthy power outage, you will be able to determine the exact temperature once the power is restored.
- Enroll in CPS Energy’s Critical Care program to minimize potential risk to customers who use electrically-operated medical equipment and/or whose physicians have verified that continued electric and/or gas service is critical to the occupant’s health.
- Consider purchasing a battery pack or portable generator.
It could never happen here in the United States! That was the feeling of many Americans until one day in 1993 a bomb went off in the parking garage of the World Trade Center in New York City. It was the first recorded terrorist attack in the United States however sadly we didn’t take it that seriously. Then later on after that incident was behind us another terrorist attack occurred that was very similar but it came from a very different source. Early one morning, in America’s Heartland, a bomb destroyed the federal building in Oklahoma City. This attack wasn’t from a foreign country but came from within the U.S.
A few more years passed by, however during this time frame the nation took the threat of terrorism more seriously. Many new programs began and security issues became more vigilant at airports and along the U.S. border. Many federal agencies became involved in security concerns across the nation and various plans were developed. The possible use of weapons of mass destruction came to light. The use of chemicals like nerve agents; bio-hazards like anthrax or smallpox; and even the possible use of nuclear weapons were suggested. Many third world countries were making threats along with various terrorist factions around the world. In addition many acts of terrorism were occurring in different nations, and in many cases Americans were the target along with our military personnel stationed overseas.
During this time frame emergency management officials at all levels of government feared another terrorist attack would occur in the United States and many federal dollars were spent on specialized equipment and training for first responders. As time went by the feeling was not if an attack would occur, but where and when. On the morning of September 11th, 2001, we learned the answer to both questions along with how! It wasn’t another bomb or some type of weapon of mass destruction, but commercial airliners, full of innocent people. These airplanes became missiles as they were flown into the World Trade Center Towers along with the Pentagon. A fourth plane crashed into a field – its target may have been the White House or The Capital. No one knows for sure.
Since that fateful day, still referred to as 9-11 many actions have been taken by various agencies of the federal, state, and local governments. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created and many federal agencies were joined together. Their initial responsibility was to create a national and comprehensive plan to deal with security around the nation. Many State governments established a similar office and reorganized some of their departments to handle this new threat. Terrorism became a household word along with several others.
The City of San Antonio along with Bexar County and all of the other municipalities within the county began working together to establish new plans and procedures to deal with terrorism. New plans were prepared and thousands of federal dollars were spent on equipment and training for all emergency responders. This is now a continuing process for all new personnel in law enforcement, the fire service and the emergency medical service.
What about the City of Live Oak and our citizens. The City is located within a major metropolitan area and we have a lot of military installations nearby, including Randolph AFB. Were also within 200 miles of the border! In addition we have numerous “soft” targets such as the theater, and the shopping centers. Large numbers of people gather at these locations at different times and these locations could become a target for an act of terrorism.
As for the citizens of Live Oak, what should you do to be safe in your home or at work? Here are some suggestions. First of all don’t panic! Some terrorist’s hope we will do just that and it is actually part of their plan. The most important thing a citizen can do is to simply be prepared and know what to do in an emergency. Be alert and aware of your surrounding both at work and around the City. If you see something that doesn’t look right or if you have a “bad feeling” about something, notify the police and leave the area. Citizens who live near a well site or the CPS substation and notice someone within the secure fenced area who is not in uniform or does not have an official vehicle may seem out of place. Call the police and have an officer investigate. To assist you a checklist is available by clicking on the following:
In closing the region is generally well prepared, and there is an excellent working relationship between all of the jurisdictions within Bexar County and even more so in the Randolph Metrocom. Mutual aid agreements exist between all of the Metrocom City’s for law enforcement and fire and EMS. As an example, in the event of a structure fire within the City of Live Oak citizens will quickly notice fire apparatus from Converse, Selma, or Universal City on the scene along with Live Oak fire trucks. Automatic agreements are in place to send equipment immediately from the other jurisdictions on certain calls. In addition, the fire departments have formed an organization known as the Combined Emergency Services Organization (CESO) and they have established a hazardous materials response team. Law enforcement agencies are quick to respond to assist each other and officers from several departments have formed a regional Emergency Response Team (ERT) and can be dispatched quickly when needed anywhere in the area. Another name for the ERT is SWAT – short for Special Weapons and Tactics.
Citizens desiring to learn more about the fire or police department are encouraged to contact the respective departments. The police department does hold a Citizens Police Academy from time to time and citizens can attend weekly classes over a period of weeks to learn about the department and law enforcement procedures.
The Office of Emergency Management is always willing to conduct a class preparing a disaster plan for neighborhood groups, organizations, church groups, or just a couple of families who want to learn how to make a plan.