Those who live in the southwestern U.S. face a unique seasonal phenomenon each summer - the monsoon. This meteorological maelstrom of events encompasses more than just rain - extreme heat, flooding and severe storms are all hazards associated with this time of year in certain parts of the country.
Just like with any other disaster or emergency, being prepared is the best way to be sure that if emergency situations do arise, you and your building's occupants will be ready and know exactly how to respond. Here are some things to keep in mind during monsoon season this year.
Know the threats
According to MonsoonSafety.org, monsoon season in the U.S. runs from June 15 to September 30. During this time, regions in the country's southwest can expect any number of extreme weather events, including heat, high winds and heavy rain.
Despite how we like to think of the term when we hear it in conjunction with exotic tropical locales, monsoon in the U.S. brings more than just lots of rain. The source indicated that the season usually begins with an extreme heat wave that can cause significant fire hazards in areas that are already particularly arid. The heat is often followed by a series of extreme thunderstorms, high winds and even flash-flooding. Together these phenomena have accounted for an average of 10 deaths and 60 injuries every year since 1995, the source noted.
Protect your building
There is a lot that the monsoon can throw at you and your facility that can result in costly damage. Just the thunderstorms alone can often result in winds exceeding 60 m.p.h., Southwest Weather noted. This makes your building a very appealing stationary target for flying debris that could damage your windows and your facility's exterior. If you live in an area affected by the monsoon, hurricane-proof windows are a good investment, as they can significantly reduce the damage caused by high-speed impacts. Also be sure to outfit your building with a lightning protection system to avoid damage from errant lightning strikes. Your building can actually be the safest place for you and your tenants during a severe storm as long as you've taken the necessary precautions to keep it safe from the weather.
Focus on safety
As a facility manager your job is to look out for the well-being of your building and its assets. However, in instances of extreme weather like those common to the monsoon, your priority should be the safety of your occupants. The monsoon can throw everything from dust storms to tornadoes at the region, and it's crucial to keep people inside during any of these events, as they can often be incredibly dangerous.
Arizona's Mesa Community College recommended putting together emergency kits containing at least three gallons of water per person. Food and lighting that don't depend on electricity are also advised, as are emergency stand-bys like first aid kits.
Due to the nature of monsoon-related weather events, you often may not get much warning before a storm, flood or tornado strikes. These dangers can even arise within the course of a daily commute. During monsoon season, you should be in constant contact with local weather authorities, who can keep you and your facility informed of any impending weather that you may not be aware of. These authorities will also likely be responsible for coordinating large-scale evacuation efforts if needed, so you'll want to keep an ear to the ground during a storm just as much as you would beforehand. For this reason, it's recommended that you have a solar- or dynamo-powered radio so you can stay connected.