When Disaster Strikes

In the wake of such international tragedies, we, as meeting planners, should be reminded that emergencies don’t come with predictability and it is our job to prepare for the worst.

Lynne Pryor, our senior conference planner, shared her thoughts on how to be prepared for the unexpected.


  • Start early, pay attention and monitor weather reports.
  • Discuss the potential for emergency with your venue and review your force majeure clause; obtain venue’s emergency procedures in case the bad weather occurs during the meeting; distribute this to attendees so they can familiarize themselves.
  • Maintain communication with airlines to obtain status of flights.
  • Obtain local hospital and emergency medical facilities contact information.

Natural and sometimes even man made disasters are unavoidable, and one new organization that has come to our attention is helping individual families  find self-sufficiency in the wake of loss.

photo courtesy of Shelter Box USA

Shelter Box USA is a non-profit that provides an actual box of items that can help individuals and families sustain themselves during and after disasters. According to their website, the box contains supplies to aid an extended family of 10. While the contents are tailored to the type of disaster and to fit a region’s needs you will typically find the following:

  • A tent: Fits up to 10 people in the event a group/family finds themselves displaced or homeless. The tent can withstand high winds, heavy rainfall and even has partitions that can be used to provide more privacy
  • A smile: Coloring books and art supplies are provided for children who have lost everything.
  • Warmth and Protection: Thermal blankets and water purification systems are provided to assist in the quality of living.
  • Self Sufficiency: Basic tools are provided to assist in the improvement of their immediate environment. (Chopping a tree for firewood or building/repairing new structures)
  • Key Items: Either a wood burning stove or a multi-level (can burn anything from paint to oil) is provided to boil water and cook food. Pans, water storage, utensils, cups, plates and bowls are also provided.

To help or contribute, visit the Shelter Box USA website to learn more.

How do you prepare for disasters at home or when planning a meeting?

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Filed under In Our Opinion, Industry Takes

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