If movies such as "Twister," "Jurassic Park" and "Titanic" have taught us anything, it's that you can't stop nature. While you may not be able to prevent tornados, dinosaurs and, more to the immediate point, hurricanes from happening, you can certainly make a plan. During Hurricane Preparedness Week, as hurricane season draws ever nearer, the more time you take to prepare, the better position you and your facility will be in should disaster strike.
Battening down the hatches
As with most things, good preparation starts at home or, in your case, in your facility. It's a good idea in the event of any potential or impending disaster to ensure that you stockpile necessary supplies and have them on hand in the event of dangerous weather, road closures or other weather-related detours. You can encourage participation and accountability by establishing a disaster preparation committee - as the facilities maintenance manager the task will likely fall to you, though it need not. The person in this role should be responsible for creating a disaster kit. In addition to nonperishable food and water, Ready.gov recommended such items as a flashlight with batteries, first aid kit and filtered dust mask. It's important to have supplies on hand for up to 72 hours, in the event that you are unable to leave the facility and disaster teams are unable to respond immediately.
There are building maintenance steps that should be taken to prepare your facility for an oncoming hurricane. Windows should be replaced with storm windows or boarded up, your ventilation system should be up-to-date to prevent harmful contaminants from blowing in from outside and you should have tools on hand to turn off utilities, such as plumbing, if need be - a burst pipe in the middle of a hurricane makes nobody's day better.
Knowing how to get out
In the event that you can leave or that you are unable to stay put, an evacuation contingency plan is essential. Create not only a standard building evacuation plan, but also a handful of alternate routes in the event that some are rendered unusable. These should be drilled by everyone at the facility and posted in a clearly visible, easily accessible place. Plans should be made to take the emergency kit, especially if larger groups of people are being evacuated at once, in case you get stuck en route.
Encourage safe evacuation practices, calmly following pre-planned routes in favor of panicked scrambling. Choose a designated meeting point outside your facility to take a head count to make sure everyone has been accounted for before you evacuate the area in a vehicle capable of navigating potentially treacherous roads.