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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Understanding risks and how the UK is preparing for emergencies

Emergencies can range from road accidents and house fires that affect a small number of people to flooding and power outages that affect many thousands of people. Find out about the risks you may face and how central and local government are preparing for emergencies.

How to find out what emergencies might affect you

Understanding the different risks you face and how they would affect you can help you become more prepared for dealing with an emergency.

Risks affecting you in and around your home

Everyone can look out for risks in and around the home. For example, you could identify things that could cause a house fire or look at how to prevent accidents with household chemicals or tools. There are also ways you can check to see if your home is at risk of flooding.

Risks affecting your local area

Your area’s ‘local emergency responders’ (eg fire, police and ambulance services) meet regularly as a group at a ‘Local Resilience Forum’. This group looks at the risks and works out the planning for emergencies which could affect your area.

Each Local Resilience Forum publishes a Community Risk Register. You can read this to become more aware of the risks in your area and how they might affect you and your community.

Risks affecting the whole of the UK

The government regularly assesses the natural hazards and manmade threats that could affect the UK. These are published in the National Risk Register, which explains the likelihood of a risk occurring and possible effects of an emergency if it happens.

Local and central government preparations for emergencies

Your area’s local emergency responders are well equipped to deal with emergencies of all kinds and take part in training exercises throughout the year. Your area’s local emergency responders are the fire, police and ambulance services, as well as your local authority and other organisations. These exercises practice the response to a range of incidents by testing emergency plans (which exist in all areas of the UK) and preparedness.

Central government programmes

Government programmes are in place to improve the response to emergencies that might affect the UK. They help make sure that emergency responders at all levels can respond to emergencies. They also ensure that essential services (like food, water, transport, health, and financial services) keep working. You can read the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review on the Cabinet Office website. This sets out the government’s priorities.

The UK’s counter-terrorism planning involves thousands of people. Police and intelligence officers, local emergency responders, businesses, voluntary and community organisations and governments all work together across the UK. You can read about the UK counter-terrorism strategy (CONTEST) on the Home Office website.

Getting involved in emergency planning in your community

'Community resilience'

Communities and individuals harnessing local resources and expertise to help themselves during an emergency, in a way that complements the work of the emergency services

Community resilience is about communities and individuals working together to use local resources and knowledge to deal with an emergency, in a way that works with emergency services.

Many communities come together in times of need. Those who have spent time planning and preparing are often better able to cope with, and recover more quickly from, national and local emergencies. Local voluntary organisations – for example, faith groups - may already have resilience plans in place.

You can ask your local council if anyone in your area has created a Community Emergency Plan. This is where volunteers from your local area may have put in place arrangements to support the work of local emergency responders. You can find out more about how to create a Community Emergency Plan from the Cabinet Office website.

You can also find information and tools for individuals, communities and voluntary organisations to prepare for emergencies and disasters on the Informed.Prepared.Together website.

You can get involved in your community by becoming a volunteer with organisations that support both local and national emergency response.

Useful contacts

There are a number of community and volunteer organisations that help plan for and respond to emergencies.

British Red Cross

Tel: 0844 871 11 11

Get information on preparing for emergencies, volunteering and learning first aid.


Tel: 0845 6014670

Find out about WRVS services for older people and how to volunteer.

St John Ambulance

Tel: 08700 104950

Get information about learning first aid and becoming a volunteer.

The Radio Amateurs’ Emergency Network (RAYNET)

Find out about services and joining RAYNET, the UK’s national voluntary communications service provided for the community by licensed radio amateurs.

Additional links

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