In the world of disaster preparedness, organizations need to consider hazards and risks: A hazard is an event that has the potential to cause harm. A risk is the likelihood that a given hazard will actually cause harm.
For example, a library on the coast and a library inland may both list flooding as a possible hazard. Their risk of flooding may be vastly different, however, based on factors such as topography, elevation or distance from oceans, rivers or creeks. Flooding may be much more of a risk in one community than the other if it is more likely to occur.
Conduct a simple self-assessment
When preparing for disasters, start by learning more about your community’s disaster history. Talk to veteran staff members and volunteers about their experiences during past disasters. Brainstorm a list of possible hazards and work with your team to identify those that pose the greatest risk.
According to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), the most common hazards statewide include:
Poor air quality
After creating your list, determine the risk level for each hazard and identify how prepared your library is to respond:
Consider the locations and groups that are most at risk in your community. Remember that an individual neighborhood or branch library might face its own unique risks. Consider factors such as geography, evacuation routes and patron needs when determining possible risks.
Tools & Resources
Use the MyHazards Tool from the state Office of Emergency Services to identify specific flood, fire and earthquake risks in your community or for an individual library branch
The RedCross Ready Rating Program’s Hazard Vulnerability Assessment offers a more detailed self-assessment worksheet that uses a five-point scoring system
FEMA’s Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment page features resources by hazard type that can help identify specific risks
Ready.gov’s Community Preparedness Toolkit offers step-by-step guidance for groups looking to improve their disaster preparedness