Emergency planning

If you believe that your life or someone else’s life is in danger, dial 999 immediately!

What is an emergency?

Emergencies can happen anywhere at any time, affecting anyone, and Harlow is no exception. An emergency is officially defined as:

  • An event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare;
  • An event or situation which threatens serious damage to the environment;
  • War, or terrorism, which threatens serious damage to security.

An emergency cannot normally be predicted and can come in any form, including, severe weather, natural disaster, industrial accidents, power failures, transport disaster or terrorism. Emergencies can happen very suddenly, e.g. an aircraft crash, or have a more gradual onset, e.g. flooding following a period of heavy rain. It may be from a natural cause or one that is ‘man-made’.

A Major Incident is an emergency which requires a response beyond the everyday resources of the Emergency Services and those organisations that support them. It also usually takes multiple services and organisations responding together to successfully deal with it.

What to do in an emergency

If there is an emergency, you should:

  • Call 999 if your or someone else’s life is in danger;
  • Follow the advice of the Emergency Services;
  • Think before you act;
  • Never put yourself or others in unnecessary danger;
  • Try to get to a safe place if possible - this may not be your home;
  • Check for injuries on yourself and others;
  • Try to reassure others around you.

If the danger is outside – “Go In, Stay In, Tune In”, and call the Emergency Services on 999

  • Go inside and stay away from doors and windows;
  • Stay inside for as long as it is safe to do so;
  • Tune in to your local radio, TV and internet news channels - local emergency responders (e.g. police and fire services) will use these to give you information.

If the danger is inside “Get Out, Stay Out”, and call the Emergency Services on 999.

What you can do to prepare for an emergency

Steps you can take to make yourself and your family better prepared for emergencies are to:

  • Know how to tune in to your local radio (you may want to get a wind-up radio because it wouldn’t need new batteries during a power cut);
  • Plan how your family will stay in contact in an emergency and write down their contact details;
  • Consider where your household might meet in an emergency, especially as your phone might not be working;
  • Be prepared to turn off electrical appliances - if there is a power cut and several appliances restart at once when the power is back on, they may overload the system
  • Gather essential in a grab bag which you might need in an emergency;
  • Find out about emergency arrangements in your community, workplace, or children’s school;
  • Speak to your neighbours and friends and see if you can help them prepare for emergencies;
  • Consider making arrangements for your pets in an emergency.

Power cuts

call 105 logoCall 105, a free service for people in England, Scotland and Wales to report or get information about a power cut. It doesn’t matter who you choose to buy your electricity from - anyone can call 105.

You can also call 105 if you spot damage to electricity power lines and substations that could put you, or someone else, in danger. If there’s a serious immediate risk, call the emergency services too.

What should I do during a power cut?

  • Switch off all electrical appliances that shouldn’t be left unattended, ready for when the power comes back on.
  • Leave a light on so you know when the power cut has been resolved.
  • Check to see if your neighbours are okay.
  • Wrap up warm.
  • Contact your electricity network operator to report the power cut, either by calling 105 or via their other channels. 

How can I prepare for a power cut?

  • Keep a torch handy – it’s much safer than using candles.
  • Get a battery-powered or wind-up radio
  • Keep warm – keep a blanket and warm clothing handy, and fill a vacuum flask or hot water bottle.
  • Stock your cupboard with food and drink that doesn’t require electricity to prepare it.
  • Keep your mobile phone and laptop fully charged.
  • Check your network operator’s website or social media channels for updates.

Local radio stations

Go In, Stay In, Tune In

If there is an emergency which affects a large number of people, such a flooding or severe weather, there may be important information or announcements given via television or local radio. You should keep a list of local radio station frequencies in case you need to tune in during an emergency.

  • Heart Essex (was Essex FM)
    101.7FM (Harlow relay), Internet, DAB (digital radio)
  • BBC Essex
    How to listen: 103.5FM, Internet, DAB (digital radio)

Emergency grab bag

Get out, Stay Out

If you are forced to evacuate your home in a hurry, because of a fire, flood, gas leak etc., you do not want to spend valuable time trying to gather important items to take with you. Prepare now, and have a “grab bag” that will be easily accessible in an emergency and which contains important items such as spare clothing, prescription medication and insurance details. You can have separate grab bags for each member of your family, or one large one. The Essex Resilience Forum (ERF) has put together an excellent leaflet 'How to prepare for an emergency' (pdf) to help you put together everything you may need.

Emergency planning for Harlow

The Council’s Emergency Planning Team is responsible for ensuring that Harlow Council carries out its legal obligations and duties before, during and after an emergency, such as:

  • Plan, train, exercise, and manage the Council's response to emergencies;
  • Supporting the emergency services;
  • Assisting people in distress;
  • Keep Council services operating in as normal a way as possible;
  • Restoring stability with the aim of restoring normality.

The Emergency Planning Team continually work with the Emergency Services, the NHS, Essex County Council and neighbouring Local Authorities to plan and prepare for emergencies which may affect Harlow.

Emergencies can happen very suddenly, e.g. an aircraft crash, or have a more gradual onset, e.g. flooding following a period of heavy rain. It may be from a natural cause or one that is ‘man-made’.