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Emergency Planning Guide for Child-Serving Organizations


Step 1:   Assess which risks you are most likely to encounter


This step helps you identify the risks that you are most likely to encounter, so that you can focus your emergency preparedness efforts efficiently.

While it may be desirable to prepare for every possible emergency, organizations and individuals typically have limited time and money to devote to emergency preparedness. Therefore, it is optimal to target your preparedness activities on the events that have the highest expected impact on your organization. The concept of expected impact incorporates two aspects of an event: (1) the likelihood that the event may occur, and (2) the size of the damage that the event may inflict. Hence, assessing the risks involves estimating:

  • How likely it is that your organization will experience the event
  • How much damage the event would be likely to impose on your organization

Below, we provide a tool to help you assess which risks have the highest expected impact for your organization, so that you can focus your emergency preparedness activities on these risks. Preparedness activities also contribute to resilience, in that they create a sense of flexibility and the ability to withstand emergencies and recover quickly.


Risk Assessment Tool

This tool helps you identify the risks that you are most likely to encounter and ranks them according to their potential impact on your organization.

Go to the Risk Assessment Tool »


What Types of Risks are Relevant to You?

Organizations face different potential risks depending on their geographic location (e.g., organizations near a river may be more prone to mudslides), weather patterns (e.g., some organizations experience severe winter weather or extreme heat), populations served, and many other factors. In this assessment tool, we consider three types of risks:

Natural disasters

Acts of nature, such as extreme hot or cold weather, snow emergencies, floods, earthquakes, forest fires

Human-caused incidents

For example, an incidence of violence at a school or in the community, hostage situations, escaped prisoners in the area

Environmental/biological disasters

Including flu epidemics, food-borne illnesses, hazardous materials spills, water contamination


While it is important to be prepared for routine injuries and illnesses caused by acute traumatic events—such as falling from a high place, choking, or a major cut—emergency medical treatment and provision are not included among the emergency preparedness information covered here. This guide focuses on emergencies that impact an agency, neighborhood, or community.



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