Emergencies are rare, with only a handful of incidents occurring in North Somerset each year, but we must be prepared if and when they do happen.
North Somerset Council has launched a ‘Community Emergency Shelter’ scheme to ensure residents have a safe place to go if evacuated from their homes or businesses following an emergency incident such as flooding or a gas leak.
North Somerset Council has plans in place to open ‘rest centres’ – a place of temporary shelter for anyone displaced by an emergency incident but we are always looking for more local venues, familiar to residents to increase resilience.
A Community Emergency Shelter can be any community venue such as a local village hall, community centre, sports venue, religious establishment or any other building that is warm and dry and as a minimum have the following basic requirements: Electricity and lighting, seating, Kitchen facilities (provision for making hot and cold drinks), Toilets and car parking.
Community Emergency Shelters would be operation until evacuees could safely return to their homes/ place of work/ or until alternative accommodation is found. Ideally, Community Emergency Shelter accommodation should not be required beyond 24-48 hours and often much less.
Venues across North Somerset are invited to join the scheme by registering their details Online. Venue details supplied will be used to update the council’s directory of community venues and create a new searchable mapping facility which will be available to the public through the website.
Personal contact details such as key holder information and 24/7 emergency contact number(s) will only be held by the councils Emergency Management Unit and will not be displayed publicly on the council’s website or elsewhere.
Often, in an emergency, people do not know where to go and the emergency services may be unaware of which buildings are suitable for use as ‘rest centres’ and which are not. The Community Emergency Shelter scheme aims to raise public awareness of what to do in the event of an emergency and the sources of support available.
Venues that have agreed to participate in the scheme will be given a promotional sticker and posters to display in a prominent position in their venue/ front window of their premise to indicate they are part of the scheme and may be opened in the event of a local emergency.
The decision to open a designated Community Emergency Shelter will be made by the councils Emergency Management Unit in consultation with the Emergency Services and the venue themselves. Members of the public should not self-deploy to a venue as it may not be open, instead they should await instructions from the emergency services and /or the council as appropriate.
The council will send staff and volunteers to manage evacuee needs at the Community Emergency Shelter as soon as possible.
How else can communities help?
If you are a member of the public and would like to help your community in times of emergency, such as serving tea and coffee in a Community Emergency Shelter or helping to warn and inform residents about a local emergency, why not consider volunteering to become a Community Resilience Volunteer with our partner voluntary agency, Community Resilience North Somerset.
With your support it is our hope that we will have a network of community emergency shelters across the district providing true community resilience. Thank you to all the venues that have so far kindly agreed to open their doors in the event of an emergency.
For more information about the scheme, please read our FAQ’s for both Venues and Emergency Responders.