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Off-season Emergency Planning Review: Hurricanes, Wildfires, Tornados

Posted on Mon, Jan 21, 2013

While the winter months take hold, companies should evaluate scenario specific emergency plans. Naturally occurring threats, such as wildfires, tornadoes, and hurricanes, typically do not occur in the winter months and planning for these events may not be on the list of top priorities. However, both large and small businesses can benefit from reviewing typical “seasonal” plans in the off-season to ensure mitigation measures and training efforts are carried out prior to the high-risk months. Companies should make every effort to verify contact information for both employees and response resources, and update pertinent site-specific policies and procedures.

For business continuity planning purposes, a business impact analysis (BIA) should be conducted prior to seasonal risks.  A BIA can identify key business process that may be interrupted during a natural disaster.  Once these processes are identified, planning can incorporate steps to limit the impact resulting from loss of facilities, infrastructure, personnel, or supply chain.

Below are planning review concepts and possible mitigation measures for three seasonal risks.

Hurricanes

  1. Review surroundings: Will your building(s) withstand potential hurricane winds and waves? 
  2. Review shutdown procedures and evacuation routes
  3. Identify and procure potential alternate location options and necessities for conducting critical business processes off-site
  4. Identify essential business records, and process for backup and redundancy
  5. Verify employee contact information, alternate contact information, and list potential evacuation locations
  6. Develop methods for employees to receive pertinent corporate information if evacuation is conducted
  7. Assign and train employees on hurricane related tasks.
  8. Obtain emergency equipment, such as generators, battery-operated radios, flashlights, lighting and additional batteries. Be prepared to acquire additional fuel prior to the storm.  
  9. Establish recovery contracts with suppliers.
  10. 10. Obtain materials to secure windows and brace doors. (If lumber is necessary, pre-cut wood to size, mark each panel/piece to identify location). 

Wildfire

  1. Cut back brush or vegetation that may be impeding on any structures on your property.
  2. Remove dead wood and combustible litter from the site.
  3. If possible, enclose the underside of eaves and decks with fire-resistant materials to keep out flying embers.
  4. Cover exterior vents with fire retardant mesh screens to prevent embers from entering building
  5. Develop, review, and share fire pre plans with local fire departments
  6. Train employees of fire prevention, evacuation procedures, and fire safety measures
  7. Identify on-site and external equipment resources, procuring contracts if necessary (fire trucks, Backhoe/Front end loader for cutting fire breaks)
  8. Check functionality of sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers
  9. Evaluate and maintain irrigation system
  10. 10.  If applicable, establish response team and train as necessary

Tornados

  1. Conduct tornado drills to ensure employees can locate and mobilize to designated shelter location(s)
  2. Establish news and weather monitoring methods
  3. Develop an emergency communication plan to relay specific expectations and responsibilities during the aftermath
  4. Be aware of the site specific dangers posed by wind from equipment and buildings
  5. Identify product release dangers and shutdown procedures
  6. Identify data backup and recovery procedures
  7. Identify and procure potential alternate location options and necessities for conducting critical business processes off-site.

Because nature is unprediatble, businesses should be prepared for natural events throughout the year. Any situation that may hinder a company's ability to access key infrastructure, such as headquarters and field offices, can benefit from scenario specific emergency plans, evaluations, and business continuity plans. The ability to identify, prioritize, and respond to natural disasters is critical for preventing the potential for large financial losses and damage to reputation.

For more information regarding Hurricane preparation, download the Corporate Hurricane Planning Checklist.

Hurricane Planning

Tags: Corporate Hurricane Preparedness, Fire Preparedness, Event Preparedness, Extreme Weather, Tornado Preparedness