Facility Dude

Don’t get caught unprepared this hurricane season

By Kate Donnelly
Jun 01, 2015

Facilities Management, Safety and Risk Management

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Summer is here. That means beach trips, margaritas and, for many facility managers across the country, hurricane season. June marks teh beginning of hurricane season, and it's a great opportunity for administrators to review existing preparedness plans and make any changes where necessary.

As with any natural disaster, hurricanes are unpredictable - you may not have much in the way of warning when one strikes. For this reason, it's best to be fully prepared from the start of the season to its end. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Know the threats

Don't get caught unprepared this hurricane season The complex nature of hurricanes means they can pose a variety of dangers to your facility and your personnel. According to the National Weather Service's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the most significant hurricane-related threat is storm surge - rising of water levels due to storm conditions. In fact, the NWS reported that this phenomenon was responsible for around half of all hurricane-related deaths between 1962 and 2012.

In addition to this, however, hurricanes can also pose a threat in the form of heavy rainfall, as well as high winds, which can topple trees and turn wayward debris into dangerous facility-damaging projectiles.

Stay connected

You may not be able to stop a hurricane, but at least you can give yourself and your tenants as much warning as possible before one strikes. This means that it's important to stay connected to the various local and government weather authorities, such as the NWS or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Sources such as these can provide you with crucial information, like whether your facility is located in an evacuation zone. It's also a good way to keep tabs on any approaching storms.

Know who to call

In the chaos born out of a hurricane-related emergency, it can be easy to lose track of all the essential parts of your evacuation and recovery plan. For this reason, it's prudent to keep an updated list of all relevant contacts, from local emergency relief authorities to power and utility companies. If your facility uses a tool like Crisis Plan, you can update this information and send out push notifications, making it available to anyone with an Internet-connected device. That way, regardless of what happens, you'll at least know who to call in a pinch.

Create a workplace plan

A big part of proper preparation is having contingency plans in place. In some cases, that may mean that you and your tenants may not be able to leave the building due to weather, closed roads or evacuation operations. That's why the NWS recommended that all businesses create a workplace plan so that everyone is prepared in the event of a disaster. This should encompass multiple facets of crisis response, from planning where personnel can safely wait out the storm to assessing your infrastructure for weak points.

It's recommended that in a home setting, families gather supplies sufficient for 72 hours. In a large building, this may not be feasible. Even so, try and have as large a supply of emergency sundries, such as blankets, flashlights and radios - not to mention bottled water - as possible. Additionally, take a look at your HVAC system to ensure it's up to code and can effectively filter out dangerous airborne impurities that get thrown around in a hurricane.

Pay attention to authorities

In a crisis, it's up to the authorities to keep the population safe. This depends largely on how well you cooperate with relief agencies. Adhere to any broadcast evacuation plans. If you end up stuck in your building, don't leave until you receive word from the proper authorities that it's safe to do so, so you don't risk putting anyone in danger or interfere with other evacuations.

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