Did you know that you don't have to be in the rainforest to be at risk of monsoon? It may surprise you to hear, but the U.S. endures its own version of the tempestuous weather phenomenon, especially in the nation's southwestern regions. As it's Monsoon Safety Awareness Week, it's the perfect opportunity for facility managers to learn more about the dangers this weather pattern can present, and what can be done to get your facility ready should one blow into town.
Understanding the monsoon
According to the official site for Monsoon Safety Awareness Week, the term monsoon is applied to the period of time between late spring and early autumn, roughly from June 15 to September 30. Unlike other meteorological catastrophes, the monsoon isn't characterized by just one dangerous weather pattern. Instead, the monsoon runs a gamut of potentially dangerous conditions, each bringing its own set of health and property risks.
The monsoon is typically characterized by a period of extreme heat, which in turn leads to an accumulation of moisture in the upper atmosphere resulting in torrential downpours, scattered and unpredictable thunderstorms and even dust storms. The initial heat is just one of the dangers of the weather pattern - additional pitfalls can include flash floods and wildfires due to frequent lightning strikes. Such extreme weather results in tremendous amounts of property damage yearly, as well as an average of 10 deaths each season.
If your facility is located in the southwestern U.S., monsoon preparation should be a regular part of your yearly building maintenance. Make sure your building is properly outfitted with storm windows to shield them from flying debris or fallen tree limbs. It's also a good opportunity to take stock of your facility's power management situation. If you don't already have one, an auxiliary generator may make for a worthwhile investment in the event that you lose power for what could be an extended period of time.
Flash floods can represent one of the most costly dangers of the monsoon. Keep your building prepared by stocking sandbags, plastic sheeting and plywood to absorb any flood waters or repair any flood-related damage. Know where you and your tenants can find high ground and have an evacuation plan in place that is circulated throughout your facility. If you have a stock of emergency supplies - which you should - keep them stored above the water level so that they don't become damaged or lost amidst the floodwaters.