6 steps to better emergency preparedness on campus

Campus emergency plans must be actionable—and they must be available to all stakeholders via smart phones and other mobile devices

Today’s college campuses are faced with a myriad of potential risks, ranging from active shooters and natural disasters to power outages and medical emergencies.

emergency While most institutions have emergency preparedness plans in place, these often involve extensive paper-based manuals and websites that aren’t frequently updated or readily accessible in the midst of an emergency.

As a majority of the U.S. workforce and college students now use mobile devices to get news and information, many institutions are now mobilizing campus-specific emergency guidelines and procedures by pushing critical information out to their population.

Ultimately, the best way to ensure campus-wide preparation and accessibility to key emergency preparedness information is to proactively arm students, faculty, and staff with step-by-step instructions that are available in the moment of need.

Here are six key best practices for deploying actionable emergency guidelines and procedures across a campus.

1. Make information actionable and contextual.

There is a distinct difference between a bulky and all-encompassing emergency preparedness manual versus one that only includes the most important elements and steps to safety.

As the latter is significantly more effective during an actual emergency, institutions should ensure that plans include distilled, step-by-step instructions for particular buildings, locations, venues, and roles; relevant diagrams and pictures; and resource numbers that can be accessed with one click.

Information should be continuously updated to reflect campus activities, construction, renovations, updates to resource contact numbers, and other key changes.

2. Include priority emergency scenarios.

While it can be tempting to include every possible emergency situation, students and faculty might become overwhelmed if deluged with too much information.

Universities should evaluate which types of emergencies and other situations are most likely to occur on their campuses and only include those in their actionable plans. This strategy allows the campus population to focus on the following the most critical steps and reaching out to the appropriate resources.