Planning Your Base Camp for Disaster Recovery (Mini Guide)

May 9, 2023

Conversations around disaster recovery are often focused on figuring out when a disaster might strike. However, the real topic of discussion should be what to do when disaster strikes to ensure that operations continue as usual.

Stakeholders can guarantee minimum damage and rapidly get back in business after a disaster if they properly plan and prepare for disaster recovery ahead of time. Establishing the planning grounds for base camps is crucial for disaster planning and preparation.

Base camps are built to handle any situation that necessitates a quick response. They help reenergize your people and empower them to better serve during relief efforts from the aftermath of natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and wildfires.

When they are well-thought-out, base camps can be a game-changer for a disaster recovery plan, but they can also be disastrous if things go sideways because of a lack of planning. In this blog, we’ve put together a quick guide for how to plan your base camp so that it makes (not breaks) your disaster recovery efforts.


Detail the Goals of Your Base Camp for Disaster Recovery

To start, determine the functional needs of your relief efforts. For example, the logistics of managing a camp for major inventory needs versus providing aid workers with a base of operations are significantly different. One may be used for all but a few hours each night, while the other sits unoccupied for 12–16 hours per day. This distinction determines the structure and management of services at the camp.

To establish your base camp’s role, you can use a tried and effective method of the 5 W’s.

  • Who will be using the camp’s services?
  • Why do you need a base camp?
  • When will there be a greater need for the services?
  • What types of services will be required?
  • Where will the residents primarily spend their time?



Consider How Much Room Your Base Camp May Require

When planning a base camp, you will want to account for the full range of activities, from sleeping to working to eating. Everything from the number of sleeping surfaces individuals will rest on to the availability of electricity for lighting and climate control must be considered when determining the amount and nature of space required.

Remember that your base camp may include:

  • Cots and bedding in sleeping areas
  • Mobile lodging
  • Kitchen and dining areas
  • Mobile restrooms
  • Light sources
  • Amenities such as HVAC
  • Mobile shower facilities
  • Power distribution needs


Additionally, base camps require spaces for the handling of administrative tasks, parking for both personal and utility vehicles, and perhaps even short-term warehouse storage.

Construction requirements for base camp sites must be tailored to the needs of the expected population. However, base camps are often built to accommodate a specified number of people. No matter the needs, it’d be best to design and construct a camp with an expert’s help.

Although OSHA mandates that temporary base camps provide a minimum of 50 square feet of floor area per person, real space requirements might vary substantially based on the camp’s goal.

Determine the Location of Your Base Camp

It’d be best to make location decisions after the base camp’s function and space requirements have been solidified. Even though it is difficult to foresee how much a natural disaster will affect your space availability, you should collaborate with a base camp partner in advance to produce site and structure plans that can be used at a moment’s notice.

  • Find a more remote location since this will give you the most room to build what you need, but remember to factor in things like environmental impact, perimeter security, and road access.
  • Set up on a solid surface that supports the weight and any flooring used inside of your temporary structures.
  • Even while there is the infrastructure to carry potable water and wastewater, having your own water supply and a place to dispose of waste is still preferable.
  • Finally, ensure that there’s enough room on site for mobile restrooms/showers, garbage, and food service areas to be separated.

The aftermath of a natural disaster may be a delicate time, fraught with worries and doubts. Without a well-thought-out strategy for recovering from major operational setbacks, things can quickly go from bad to worse.

The best thing to do is to set up your plan and partnerships ahead of time so that you can account for what you know as well as the unknown and unexpected. Find a team that’s expertly prepared with a vast inventory of mobile sleeper trailers and temporary structures. Moreover, getting assistance that can provide additional services such as pre-disaster preparation, logistical support, and potable water supply would also be extremely helpful for setup and recovery.