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Severe Weather Preparedness and Impact Recovery Planning

Posted on Thu, Dec 19, 2013

Naturally occurring threats, such as wildfires, tornadoes, and hurricanes are not typically a threat during the winter months. As a result, planning for these events may not be on the list of top priorities. However, as demonstrated by the November 16, 2013 tornado and severe weather outbreak across the United State’s upper Midwest, preparedness and response protocols should be an ongoing effort. “Off-season” planning for both large and small companies can ensure mitigation measures and training efforts are implemented prior to the high-risk months.

Severe weather situations can result in the loss or temporary disruption of one or more of the following necessary key business resources:

  • Facilities
  • Infrastructure
  • IT Applications/Systems
  • People
  • Supply Chain

Weather-specific planning should be implemented for historically high-risk areas. However, the following general severe weather measures should be included in an overall preparedness program

PREPAREDNESS

  • Establish, verify, and exercise communication plans:
    • Verify contact details and identify communication procedures  with employees, emergency personnel, critical business unit leaders, and contractors in the event of an emergency
    • Establish response plans in a portable format that can accessed through a variety of methods
    • Verify availability and viability of communication equipment
    • Monitor and determine applicable response procedures based on radio, television, and/or weather reports
  • Establish, verify, and exercise resource management and supply chain measures:
    • Coordinate activities with local and state response agencies
    • Evaluate equipment needs
    • Pre-select alternate resources to ensure necessary response equipment is available when needed
    • Pre-select alternate delivery of critical needs in the event primary suppliers are not able to provide required services such as:
      • Electrical power
      • Water
      • Fuel
      • Telecommunications
      • Transportation
      • Staffing
      • Waste Management
      • Operations-specific equipment
  • Establish, verify, and exercise personnel roles and responsibilities
    • Conduct site specific awareness training, including facility evacuation routes and shelter in place procedures
    • Identify employees that should remain on-site (if deemed safe), and their responsibilities.
    • Identify necessary minimum staffing levels and assignments necessary for recovery operations. As the storm passes, ensure staff, contractors, and suppliers understand their individual responsibilities and recovery time objectives.
    • Train employees to recognize, report, and avoid hazardous chemicals discovered during debris clean up.
    • Ensure that key safety and maintenance personnel are thoroughly familiar with all building systems, such as alarms, utility shutoffs, elevators, etc.

BASIC RESPONSE MEASURES

  • Report hazards such as downed power lines, frayed electric wires, or gas leaks to the appropriate authorities.
  • Inspect the worksite before allowing employees to enter.
    • Evaluate building structures, roadways, surfaces, trenches and excavations for damage, stability and safety
    • Assume all wires and power lines are energized.
    • Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes when examining walls, doors, staircases and windows for damage
  • Ensure employee safety
    • Before tackling strenuous tasks in extreme temperatures, consider employees’ physical condition, weather factors, and the nature of the task.
    • Ensure employees practice good lifting techniques to avoid overexertion and back injuries.
    • If applicable, provide all employees with personal protective equipment (PPEs), including hard hats, safety glasses, work boots, and gloves.
    • Beware of overhead and underground lines, especially when moving ladders or equipment near them.
    • Inform employees in areas where debris is being collected and deposited of any special hazards they may encounter during recovery efforts.
    • Be aware of possible biological hazards (i.e., dead animals).
    • Use flaggers, traffic cones and highway channeling devices to steer traffic away from employees working along the roadways.
    • Stay hydrated.
  • Utilize a site plan for collection of debris
    • Provide traffic flow details and train employees to stay clear of all motorized equipment.
  • Communicate effectively
    • Provide radio equipment and extra batteries to all spotters and equipment operators, so warnings can be communicated
    • Utilize point of contact for employees check in procedures
  • Freeze all computer system updates so that systems will not be damaged by electrical surges
For a free Response Procedures Flow Chart that can be applied to your facility, click the image below:
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Tags: Climate Change, Resiliency, Emergency Preparedness, Extreme Weather, Tornado Preparedness