Precautions to Consider During Severe Weather
The world looks very different now than it did earlier this year. Many states are starting to open again after shutting down due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Camps are trying to reimagine how they can provide a vital service to families while keeping participants safe. Still, life goes on, and you may have other situations that require your immediate attention during this uncertain time, as well — such as severe weather.
If you run a camp, take a look at your emergency plan. Is it still accurate? Is the person who is designated as team leader still able to fulfill that function during the pandemic? Have you established emergency procedures that no longer apply in a time of social distancing? If you have a generator, flashlights, batteries or other items with which you intend to provide emergency power, make sure you properly disinfect them.
Before the storm
You probably need to rethink much of your emergency plan — especially the part that pertains to where campers will be sheltering. Rather than keeping everyone close together in a safe part of the camp, you will need to find additional areas for shelter, so campers can maintain proper distancing.
Keep an updated list of business partners and contacts for food and water; pharmaceutical, medical and equipment supplies; infection control-related supplies; and transportation.
Involve local authorities, such as your state’s public health department, licensing bureau, hospital (or other healthcare) networks, local emergency management agency, etc. in your planning. They may have additional ideas for how you can manage this unique situation. You should also communicate with the Red Cross to make sure you are examining all possibilities.
During the storm
Campers understandably will be anxious, and your job is to both reassure them and prioritize their safety. Make sure to:
Manage mealtimes so they can maintain distance.
Enhance your cleaning and disinfecting schedule.
Set up additional hand-washing stations and provide hand sanitizer.
Provide an isolation care area with physical separation from the “dormitory” area.
Parents and guardians will be eager to hear updates, so keep a contact list handy and, when possible, inform them as to the status of your facility. Designate multiple staff members to keep in close contact with your campers’ families throughout the ordeal.
Severe weather is a challenge in and of itself for camps, and the need for social distancing and source control has made it even more difficult. But, with careful planning, you can prioritize safety for all your campers.