Government Product News checked in with Karen Hamel to find out about helpful tools that can assist in disaster planning and recovery. Hamel is a technical specialist at Tipton, Pa.-based New Pig, a supplier of spill and leak control and workplace safety products.

GPN: Are there any web resources and tools that really stand out?
Karen Hamel: Federal resources like the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s ready.gov site can be a big help to governments and other organizations.

Ready.gov has a template for business continuity plans. The nice thing about it is that it can be scaled to any kind of operation. It’s good for government operations, manufacturing facilities, schools, military bases, etc. — it can really be used for any installation or facility. The planning tool walks you through different topics to think about, such as having a fire or evacuation plan, having a list of everybody who is onsite so management can account for them in an emergency, having phone numbers ready, knowing your local contacts regarding emergencies--so if it’s not 911, who do you call?

It’s a good template to get governments, businesses and other organizations started in the planning process, and to really think about what you might need when there is an emergency. It also has information about preparing your employees so they are ready, such as having a 72-hour emergency supplies kit.

GPN: What trends do you see in social media usage among public agencies in disaster planning and disaster relief work?
KH: Besides reverse 911 systems, first responders are relying more on Twitter and text messaging for emergency alerting.

One of our biggest hazards is flooding. We have started to see the public, especially, using social media sources to let their relatives know that they are fine. And we have also started to see emergency responders rely on social media to get messages out to the public if the bridge is closed or there is a fire in the area and the roads are blocked.

In particular, the chemical industry is at the forefront of social media use. I’ve really seen them lead the marketplace in notification for employees through social media — more so with text messages than, say, Twitter.

GPN: Thank you, Karen Hamel.

This New Pig spill response training video offers a seven-step approach to help workers prepare for spill cleanup in a facility.

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