Your Solution for SMART Response Plans

Key Corporate Hurricane Planning Tips for the 2016 Season

Posted on Thu, Jun 02, 2016

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1st. Is your company prepared?

According to meteorologists, El Niño played a significant role in suppressing the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season. But with El Niño weakening, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast suggests an “average” hurricane season for 2016. However, with the additional uncertainty a developing La Niña during peak months, there is greater chance that a tropical system could impact U.S. businesses compared to the previous three years. Companies should prioritize their efforts to actively review and update their hurricane and business continuity plans, and mitigate potential impacts from a tropical cyclone.

Despite disastrous historical effects on inland locations, hurricanes are typically thought of as a coastal problem. Hurricanes and their lingering destructive winds, tropical flooding rains, and off-shoot tornadoes, can impact businesses far from the initial landfall point. Consequently, emergency and HSE managers must ensure that this season’s hurricane and business continuity plans are up-to-date, effective, and exercised.

Preparation and pre-planning is the key to success of initiating response plans. Be wary of assigning checklists by hurricane category or targeted landfall area as a storm's’ intensity and direction can rapidly fluctuate. Below are key hurricane planning concepts to consider:

  1. Assign and train personnel and departments to complete specific pre and post hurricane responsibilities. Many companies break down checklists by time frame; 5 days prior to landfall, 96-72 hours until landfall, 48 hours until landfall, 24 hours until landfall, 12 hours until landfall, etc
  2. Highlight evacuation routes
  3. Identify the minimum necessary personnel to remain at the facility during the storm, if if deemed safe to do so
  4. Identify redeployment team(s) responsible to secure the site after a storm
  5. Identify needs for conducting necessary business processes off-site, as well as processes for data backup and redundancy
  6. Review alternate location options2016_Atlantic_Hurricane_Season_Outlook.jpg
  7. If applicable, identify and make arrangements for alternate or off-site storage of selected equipment (computers, moving equipment/inventory from potential flood areas)
  8. Coordinate site specific plans with local and county emergency management agencies’ hurricane plans
  9. Inspect the site for potential mitigation measures and initiate countermeasures to minimize damage. If lumber is necessary, pre-cut wood to sizer, mark each panel/piece to identify location. If using storm shutters, identify proper installation procedures and functionality prior to storm
  10. Identify, inspect, and/or purchase materials required to support hurricane preparedness such as generators, battery-operated radios, flashlights, lighting, ice, and additional batteries
  11. Update employee and contractor contacts
  12. Identify primary and alternate communication methods and procedures
  13. Contract post incident suppliers/contractors to supply chain interruption. 
While weather events are not avoidable, companies may limit residual damage, loss, or prolonged interruption to key business processes with mitigation measures and business continuity planning. A detailed company identification and evaluation of critical business processes should be performed as an integral part of a business continuity plan.

A “bare bones” evaluation should identify the minimum criteria necessary to keep a business in operation. Subsequent continuity plans should include procedures for the prevention of loss or restoration of operations. Necessary resources for business continuity may include:

  • Alternate workplace location(s)
  • Necessary equipment
  • Critical software
  • Client records
  • Off-site storage
  • Key vendors lists
  • Inventory and supplier requirements
  • Notification procedures for key stakeholders
  • Predefined personnel roles and responsibilities with current and alternate contact information
  • Business Continuity Team notification and activation procedures
  • Staff relocation requirements, including name, department, title, function code, home address, type of PC (PC or Laptop), number of adults and children in immediate family, pets /other, relocation priority, recovery location or facility, relocation seat number/room assignment, alternate employees, and special needs

Development and maintenance of Hurricane and Business Continuity Plans may be constrained by resources, profit margins, or alternative goals. However, with the potential increase in the forecasted number of storms and prevalence of natural disasters, companies must prioritize preparedness and planning in order minimize potentially damaging losses to critical operations and processes.

TRP Corp Hurricane Checklist

Tags: Corporate Hurricane Preparedness, Extreme Weather

Severe Weather Projections Require Energy Sector Response Planning

Posted on Thu, Oct 15, 2015

According to an October 2015 report by the Department of Energy, the US energy infrastructure may not be able to withstand projected extreme weather changes associated with temperatures, precipitation, hurricanes, wildfire, and sea-level rise. Infrastructures were designed to perform across a known range of historical conditions. However, record breaking climate conditions that fall outside historical parameters have the potential to expose new vulnerabilities and stress the US energy infrastructure. As a result, it is imperative that companies ensure preparedness and response planning initiatives that reflect a new range of potential risks and climatological threats.

The private sector, which owns and operates the majority of energy assets in the US, holds central responsibility for identifying and implementing appropriate measures to ensure infrastructure resilience, continuity, and response. “In recent years, record temperatures, droughts, and floods have damaged energy infrastructure and disrupted energy systems, affecting American families and businesses across the country,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. The report highlighted the following major energy systems and susceptible locations that have the potential to be affected by regional climate impacts:

  • Oil and gas upstream operations are most vulnerable in the Southeast, Southern Great Plains, and Alaska, particularly to decreasing water availability, and increasing temperatures and frequency of intense storms, hurricanes and storm surge.
  • Fuel transport in every region is vulnerable to a variety of climate impacts, including increasing heavy precipitation, heat waves, drought, hurricanes, and sea level rise-enhanced storm surge.
  • Thermoelectric power generation is vulnerable to increasing temperatures and reduced water availability in most regions, particularly in the Midwest, Great Plains, and southern regions.
  • Hydropower is vulnerable to reduced snowpack, earlier melting, and changes to precipitation and runoff patterns, mainly in western regions.
  • Bioenergy crops in the Midwest and Northern Great Plains may be harmed by higher temperatures and more frequent droughts and floods.
  • Electric grid operations and infrastructure in every region is vulnerable to a variety of climate impacts, including increasing temperatures, heavy rainfall events, wildfire, hurricanes, and storm surge.
  • Electricity demand is affected by increasing temperatures and is a key vulnerability in nearly every region.

Projected Climate Impacts on US Energy Sector by Region

Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Policy and System Analysis 

With the potential for more frequent and severe disruptions, preparedness and response planning measures should be reviewed. At a minimum, the following severe weather measures should be included in a site-specific 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.

Infrastructure-related RESPONSE MEASURES

  • Evaluate building structures, roadways, surfaces, trenches and excavations for damage, stability and safety
  • Inspect the worksite before allowing employees to enter
  • Report hazards such as downed power lines, frayed electrical wires, or gas leaks to the appropriate authorities
  • Assume all wires and power lines are energized
  • Beware of overhead and underground lines, especially when moving ladders or equipment near them
  • Utilize a site plan for collection of debris
  • Inform employees where debris is being collected and deposited of any special hazards they may encounter during recovery efforts
  • Be aware of possible biological hazards
  • Use flaggers, traffic cones and highway channeling devices to steer traffic away from hazards and employees working along roadways
  • Provide traffic flow details and train employees to stay clear of all motorized equipment.
  • 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
  • Ensure employee safety
    • Before engaging in strenuous tasks in extreme temperatures, consider employee's physical condition, weather factors, and the nature of the task.
    • Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes when examining walls, doors, staircases and windows for damage
    • If applicable, provide all employees with personal protective equipment (PPEs), including hard hats, safety glasses, work boots, and gloves
Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Facility Response Plan, Extreme Weather

El Nino, Extreme Weather, and Corporate Emergency Preparedness

Posted on Thu, Oct 01, 2015

Recently, Los Angeles County Mayor Michael D. Antonovich requested county departments to report their state of preparedness, response planning, and recovery capabilities for the potential impacts of El Niño. In early September, NOAA released its monthly El Niño forecast, which indicated that this year’s El Niño could be one of the top three on record. “The news is that we now have a strong El Niño with a 95 percent chance El Niño will last through the winter,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

Based on historical records, a strong El Niño has different impacts on various regions. Certain regions, such as southern California, typically receive excess rain and storms, while others will see less. While the forecast of more rain is good for the drought-ridden counties, any excess weather phenomenon can create natural disasters. Companies must ensure emergency preparedness and response measures are up-to-date and effective.

According to NOAA, El Niño typically present the following scenarios:

  • Wetter weather to southern California
  • Cooler and wetter weather to the southern United States
  • Warmer weather to western Canada and southern Alaska
  • Drier weather to the Pacific Northwest
  • Cooler weather to northern Canada

The Los Angeles County preparedness report will include the status of capacity at the County's flood-control facilities and a plan for maximizing storm water capture and retention. “With a forecasted El Niño season approaching, we will be directing county departments to take every precaution necessary to protect life and property,” Antonovich said.

Countries around the globe are mimicking L.A. County’s lead in preparing for potential El Niño impacts. Individual companies should also follow suit. While the severity of impacts will vary depending on location, emergency management and response protocols should be an ongoing effort.

Severe weather situations, such as those produced by an El Niño phenomenon, 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 preparedness measures should be included in an overall emergency management program to prepare or respond to affected operations.

  • Establish, verify, and exercise communication plans
  • Verify contact details and identify communication procedures with employees, emergency personnel, critical business unit leaders, and contractors
  • Establish widely-accessible, yet secure response plans
  • Verify availability and viability of communication equipment
  • Verify Stormwater drainage compliance, if applicable
  • 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 exercise activities with local and state response agencies
  • Evaluate equipment needs and verify availability
  • Identify alternate resources and ensure availability for incidents
  • 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
  • Conduct site-specific awareness training, including facility evacuation routes and shelter-in-place procedures
  • Establish, verify, and exercise response personnel’s roles and responsibilities
  • Identify employees that should remain on-site (if deemed safe), and their responsibilities
  • Identify necessary minimum staffing levels and assignments necessary for recovery operations
  • Ensure staff, contractors, and suppliers understand their responsibilities and recovery time objectives
  • Train employees to recognize, report, and avoid hazardous chemicals impacted by severe weather
  • Ensure that key safety and maintenance personnel are thoroughly familiar with all infrastructure systems, such as alarms, utility shutoffs, elevators, etc.

Unfortunately, some natural disasters provide little or no warning. In these instances, prior planning and training is of the utmost importance. While often suppressed in favor of short-term profits, budgets for pertinent emergency management initiatives should be prioritized for long-term corporate sustainability. Companies that prioritize preparedness and planning, especially in severe weather prone areas, are better equipped to minimize impacts on personnel, infrastructure, and the environment.

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: Extreme Weather

Be Ready with Hats, Gloves, and Business Continuity Plans

Posted on Mon, Nov 17, 2014

Winter is rushing in with a vengeance this November. But it wasn't too long ago that the meteorological term “Polar Vortex” was indoctrinated in the minds of millions across the United States. In January 2014, arctic temperature plummeted unusually south and two-thirds of the nation was paralyzed by record breaking cold. Will we have another Polar Vortex-filled winter that impacts businesses across the country?

According to Evan Gold, Senior Vice President at Planalytics, a business weather intelligence company, January’s polar vortex resulted in a $50 billion economic disruption, the most delivered by a weather phenomenon since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Severe weather habitually effects routine business operations and profitability. Weather can be the culprit of power outages, dangerous temperatures, supply disruptions, safety hazards, and potentially impair access to key infrastructures. The January 2014 events, which impacted nearly 200 million people, is one of the many examples of how severe weather affects operational continuity.

As we begin another winter season, companies should perform a business impact analysis (BIA), a precursor to a business continuity plan. The process of a BIA allows for targeted recovery strategies to be developed in the event of an emergency. A BIA should be utilized to identify likely consequences of critical business process disruptions.

After each critical business process is identified, the potential impacts resulting from loss of facilities and/or necessary infrastructure, personnel, or supply chain can be examined for each process. Key minimum recovery components along with incremental recovery time objectives should be detailed for each critical area identified. The following components should be evaluated for each critical business process.

  1. Recovery Time: Identify how long it would take to recover a specific critical process under scenario specific circumstances.
  2. IT requirements: If electronic data must be available to recover specific processes to a minimum service level, identify the necessary requirements.
  3. Data Backup History: Indicate how old the data can be to satisfy recovery (i.e. last weekly backup, last monthly backup, last quarterly backup, etc.) and review recovery methods.
  4. Review alternate location options: Identify needs and review options for off-site backup processes.
  5. Staffing minimums: Identify needs throughout recovery time objectives to optimize recovery.
  6. Impact Level: Indicate how severely the process would be impacted considering current/existing mitigation measures (ex. minimal, somewhat severe, severe).
  7. Likelihood Level: Indicating how likely each specific threat could occur considering current/ existing capabilities, mitigation measures, and history.

Timely recovery also depends on specific preparedness and planning initiatives. Establishing processes, training employees, and restocking necessary equipment can drastically reduce the overall potential damage to operations and the financial bottom line. In order to minimize the effects of severe winter weather on continuity, preparedness protocols should be established. Depending on location and specific operations, these protocols should include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Monitor news and weather reports on television or the radio (with battery backup)
  • Alert employees or others on-site that severe weather is approaching and communicate expectations
  • Be aware of the dangers posed extreme temperatures, and ice and snow falling from equipment and buildings; mediate if possible
  • Identify infrastructure dangers posed by cold weather on exposed piping (hazardous releases, flooding, etc)
  • Prepare and insulate exposed piping
  • Winterize and shut off landscaping sprinkler systems
  • Contract snow removal services or obtain the necessary equipment (snow shovels, ice scrapers, rock salt, tire chains, etc.)
  • Ensure that company vehicles have a full tank of gas and are functioning properly (heater, deicing fluid, antifreeze levels, windshield wipers)
  • Ensure flashlights are in proper working order and have additional batteries on site.
  • Monitor ice and snow accumulation on any on site tanks, sheds, or buildings and identify non-hazardous procedures for mitigation.
  • If necessary, obtain generators to re-power facilities or necessary equipment
  • If appropriate, leave water taps slightly open so they drip continuously to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Understand and implement cold weather response techniques when responding to product spills as released product may flow under ice or snow.
  • Establish and maintain communication with personnel
  • Consider limiting vehicle traffic
  • Maintain building temperature at acceptable levels and understand safety measures if using space heaters.
  • Notify supervisors if facility(s) loses power or is otherwise unable to operate

Preparedness and Emergency Management - TRP Corp

Tags: Business Continuity, Event Preparedness, Extreme Weather

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

The Business Continuity Planning Timeline

Posted on Mon, Nov 11, 2013

Not all business continuity events are instantaneous. Although network disruptions and many emergencies are unforeseeable, instances such as significant weather and other events are often predictable, allowing companies to sequentially initiate business continuity plans, if necessary.

Business continuity planning is an ongoing process that should serve as systematically guide for employees to restore operations that are affected by abnormal conditions. Unfortunately, once a business continuity plan (BCP) has been developed, some companies check it off the list as “completed” project. However, if BCP is to be successfully deployed, it must be periodically reviewed, assessed, and updated according to ebb and flow of its designated operations. Plan development and maintenance efforts are typically aligned with the size, complexity, and volatility of a company, or facility.

Below is a general timeline for business continuity implementation. This timeline is inclusive of predicted events, however, it can be accelerated to account for emergency situations and/or timing disparities.

Weeks leading up to identified events:

  • Execute a business impact analysis (BIA) and review
  • Submit BCP updates for each department, as necessary per the BIA
  • Ensure required information/contact list is accurate
  • Train employees on BCP implementation and restorative operations
  • Make specific recommendations for the yearly training program
  • Identify and coordinate all logistical and administrative resources
  • Identify any additional BCP preparation actions

4 Days from identified event

  • Ensure that all actions required for BCP accuracy are complete
  • Advise the BCP management team regarding the developing situation
  • Establish BCP meeting schedule
  • Set incremental time frame for situational updates
  • Evaluate the need and timetable for BCP implementation
  • Advise department heads/coordinators of BCP intentions regarding the situation
  • If relocating operations, coordinate specifics of the move after initial BCP activation
  • Obtain hotels reservation in alternate location, if applicable
  • Execute the final review of the BCP

Business_Continuity_Plan_TRP.jpg

2 Days (48 hours) from identified event
  • Ensure that all BCP actions required up to this point have been completed
  • If BCP is being implemented, move forward and coordinate implementation procedures
  • If applicable, move operations to alternate site
  • If relocating, review the lodging requirements/assignments with BC staff
  • Review the Communication Plan with staff
  • If evacuation is necessary, communicate expectations to staff

During the event

  • If the event occurs without time for added preparation, immediately implement current BCP procedures
  • Confirm all preparedness activities and required actions for implementation are complete
  • Coordinate operations from alternate site
  • Communicate with Department Heads/Coordinators regarding BCP level/status
  • Produce status reports and distribute to BC management team
  • Produce status reports/press releases for stakeholders, clients, and media
  • Generate information bulletins for employees and contractors

Recovery/Post event

  • Ensure all departments are able to implement a full recovery
  • Receive completed status reports and updates from department coordinators
  • If necessary, mitigate any requirements from critical business units to ensure full recovery
  • If applicable and safe, relocate to original operational site
  • If necessary, continue to coordinate recovery operations from alternate site
  • Organize documentation of all executed actions for review and historical record
  • Communicate current BCP level, or deactivation readiness
  • Review expenditures and submit expense reports
  • Prepare the final report, and send to corporate BCP coordinator
  • Review reports and conduct debrief meetings to identify lessons learned
  • Update BCP with lessons learned
  • Schedule BCP training to review updated BCP procedures

 

For a free download on how to conduct an effective emergency exercise, click the image below:

TRP Corp Emergency Response Planning Exercises

Tags: Business Continuity key points, Business Continuity, Extreme Weather, Business Continuity Plan, BCM Metrics

Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Winter Storms

Posted on Thu, Oct 17, 2013

Meteorologists typically release the first projections of the upcoming winter forecasts in early September. Long-range seasonal predictors are regional generalities based on a combination of historical patterns and current scientific evidence. However, despite the potential season forecast, it only takes one significant winter weather event at your facility to disrupt business operations and affect profitability.

Winter storms cause power outages, dangerously cold temperatures, supply disruptions, safety hazards that endanger the lives of people, and potentially impair access to key infrastructure. In 2011, a snowstorm hit Atlanta during the college football BCS national championship. Some businesses experienced supply chain disruptions, while others had to close altogether. One restaurant /pub owner estimated the storm cost him an estimated $50,000 in losses. The lessons learned included purchasing a generator, securing nearby hotel rooms for staff to eliminate staffing shortages, and evaluating supply chain availability.

Scenario-specific emergency response and business continuity plans can minimize operational downtime in the event of severe winter weather. The ability to identify, prioritize, and respond to natural phenomena is critical for preventing the potential for large financial losses and damage to reputation.

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, mitigation strategies can be implemented to reduce the potential  impact resulting from loss of facilities, infrastructure, personnel, or supply chain.

For predictable naturally occurring events, such as the onslaught of winter weather, planning can be accomplished before the incident occurs. Such planning should include, but not limited to the following:

  • Conduct awareness training, including facility evacuation routes and procedures
  • Coordinate activities with local and state response agencies
  • Communicate recommended Community Evacuation routes
  • Procure emergency supplies
  • Monitor radio and/or television reports
  • Secure facility
  • Secure and backup critical electronic files

Understand the following winter storm warning terms:

  • Winter weather advisory: expect winter weather conditions to cause inconvenience and hazards.
  • Frost/freeze warning: Expect below-freezing temperatures.
  • Winter storm watch: Be alert; a storm is likely.
  • Winter storm warning: Take action; the storm is in or entering the area.
  • Blizzard warning: Seek refuge immediately! Snow and strong winds, near-zero visibility, deep snowdrifts, and life-threatening wind chill.

Business owners and/or response teams should incorporate the following concepts into planning for winter weather: 

  • Monitor news and weather reports on television or the radio (with battery backup)
  • Alert employees or others on-site that severe weather is approaching and communicate expectations
  • Be aware of the dangers posed by ice and snow falling from equipment and buildings, mediate if possible
  • Identify dangers posed by cold weather on exposed piping (hazardous releases, flooding, etc)
  • Prepare and insulate exposed piping
  • Contract snow removal services or obtain the necessary equipment (snow shovels, ice scrapers, rock salt, tire chains, etc.)
  • Ensure that company vehicles have a full tank of gas and are functioning properly (heater, deicing fluid, antifreeze levels, windshield wipers)
  • Ensure flashlights are in proper working order and have additional batteries on site.
  • Monitor ice and snow accumulation on any onsite tanks, sheds, or buildings
  • Obtain generators, if necessary, to re-power facilities or necessary equipment
  • If appropriate, leave water taps slightly open so they drip continuously to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Understand and implement cold weather response techniques  for product spills, as released product may flow under ice or snow.
  • Establish and maintain communication with personnel
  • Consider limiting vehicle traffic
  • Maintain building temperature at acceptable levels and understand safety measures if using space heaters.
  • Notify supervisors if facility(s) loose power or is otherwise unable to operate
For a free download of Response Procedures Flowchart, click the image below:
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Tags: Climate Change, Power Failure, Business Continuity, Supply Chain, Extreme Weather, Business Disruption

Smart Phone Apps for Emergency Managers and First Responders

Posted on Thu, Jun 06, 2013

Information and communication are becoming more intertwined than ever before through the availability and affordability of smart phones. This evolving wave of broad accessibility offers new options in emergency response planning and management. There are a variety of free and low-cost smart phone apps that can assist EHS managers and first responders, ranging from warnings of impending crises to response aids providing instantaneous applicable information. With pertinent information at the fingertips of responders, the decision-making process can be improved. As a result, a response can often be accelerated, potentially minimizing the effects of the incident.

This list provides a sample of emergency preparedness and response smart phone apps. (TRP Corp does not endorse any specific app, as this list is for informational purposes only. Readers should evaluate each app for relevance, keeping in mind the necessity for common response language as dictated by the Incident Command System (ICS).)

  • 2012 Emergency Response Guidebook (FREE)The mobile ERG will make it easier for firefighters, police and other emergency first responders to quickly locate the information they need, thanks to an electronic word search function, and will ensure easy reading even during nighttime emergencies. The 2012 version of the ERG includes new evacuation tables for large toxic gas spills and standard response procedures for gas and liquid pipeline incidents. Android, IPhone
  • WISER 2.0 (FREE)WISER is a system designed to assist first responders in hazardous material incidents. WISER provides a wide range of information on hazardous substances, including substance identification support, physical characteristics, human health information, and containment and suppression advice. The WISER application extracts content from TOXNET's Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB), an authoritative, peer-reviewed information resource maintained by the National Library of Medicine, and places that information into the hands of those who need it most. The Android version of WISER includes the full ERG 2012 tool. Android, IPhone
  • CadPage (FREE)Designed for volunteer firefighters, CAD Page is an advanced, customizable notification app that receives SMS pages from a central FIRE/EMS Cad and then presents options for mapping the call, driving directions, and other features. It keeps a history of calls and allows for customized alerts. When used in combination with ringtone apps, users can assign a unique notification sound for all incoming CADPage alerts. Android, iPhone
  • Scanner Radio (FREE) and Scanner Radio Pro ($2.99)Live audio from over 4,000 police and fire scanners, weather radios, and amateur radio repeaters from around the world (primarily in the United States and Australia, with more being added daily). Users can browse by genre, GPS location, or source. It’s important to note that the developer doesn’t control what frequencies you can hear, this is a function of the sources. Currently Scanner Radio features feeds from LiveFireFeeds.com, RadioReference.com, RailroadRadio.net and Wunderground.com. Android
  • 5-0 Radio Police Scanner Lite (Free) and 5-0 Radio Pro Police Scanner ($2.99)This IPhone version of Scanner Radio is one of ”iTunes Top 100 Downloads” for IOS apps. It allows users to tap into the largest collection of live police, firefighters, aircraft, railroad, marine, emergency, and ham radios. It communicates location-based news, events, or major crime waves. iPhone
  • FEMA (FREE)A government provided basic app that provides information on preparing for and responding to various types of disasters. The main menu is divided into seven boxes containing different types of applications. The app includes preparedness information for different types of disasters, a map with FEMA Disaster Recovery Center locations (one-stop centers where disaster survivors can access key relief services), shelters, and general ways the public can get involved before and after a disaster. Android, iPhone
  • AccuWeather (FREE)Forecasts in 22 languages, with current conditions updated every five minutes. Severe weather notices include optional, real-time pushed severe weather alerts for your chosen locations in the United States. The pushed severe weather alerts are user-friendly, easy-to-read, and visible from your lock screen, home screen, and from the Notification Center. Voted "Best iPhone App" by the 2012 Mobie awards. Android, iPhone

Emergency managers and first responders should be knowledgeable of threats based on geographical risk assessments. Specialized apps, such as Earthquake Alert, that provide specialized information based on these assessments may be beneficial.  The number of location-based emergency preparedness apps, such as ReadyVirginia andNorwich/Chenago County NY EMO, continue to rise. Ideally, location based apps should be an all-inclusive, singular mobile resource that allows users to access accurate and timely information before and in the event of an emergency. Unfortunately, app development requires funding and technology specialists, which may impede short-range intuitive design and rapid availability.

TRP Corp Hurricane Checklist 

Tags: Earthquake Preparedness, Emergency Management, Extreme Weather, Social Media, Notification Systems

Incident Specific Response Planning

Posted on Thu, May 30, 2013

No two crisis situations or responses are identical. As a result, Emergency Managers and Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Managers responsible for developing and managing comprehensive, compliant, and functional response plans should create a broad scope of planned responses for potential emergency and crisis situations. In many circumstances, response efforts to various incidents may be similar. However, supplemental response procedures for specific hazards or threats can be added to the overall emergency management program to address these scenarios.

Focused supplemental response procedures or plans, for specific events such as pandemic flu and hurricanes can encompass a full range of hazards and potential threats and unique response details that apply to that single hazard. Depending upon response plan structure and volume of content, hazard-specific information may be included within an all-hazards response plan, or created as a stand-alone plan.

Hazard or incident-specific plans should include the same level of detail as the basic response plan, including, but not limited to:

  • Specific location(s)
  • Contact information for internal and external responders
  • Evacuation routes
  • Plot Plans
  • Specific provisions and protocols for warning employees, the public, and disseminating emergency information
  • Personal protective equipment and detection devices
  • Policies and processes for each specific hazard response
  • Identification of additional potential hazards
  • Response team roles and responsibilities
  • Recovery and restoration processes

Just as in the primary response plan, a planning team may use supporting documents as necessary to clarify the contents of the incident specific plan. These supporting documents can include hazard specific aerial photographs, facility maps, checklists, resource inventories, and summaries of critical information. Supplemental response plans may include, but are not limited to:

  • Assessment and control of the hazard information
  • Identification of unique prevention and preparedness of critical infrastructure/key resources
  • Initial protective actions
  • Communications procedures and warning systems
  • Implementation of protective actions
  • Identification of short-term stabilization actions
  • Implementation of recovery actions

Below are examples of potential supplemental response plans. Theses plans should be aligned with site-specific company facilities and personnel details.

  • Hurricane Plans:  Identifies response procedures and specific pre and post hurricane responsibilities according to landfall prediction timeline. May require providing evacuation route maps or shelter in place areas. Evacuation routes and scope of evacuation may change depending on the location of the facility, potential threats, or forecast.
  • Fire Pre Plans: Addresses specific information necessary to effectively fight a fire and limit exposures. Chemical and hazardous details in regards to particular buildings, tanks, and process units, and foam and water requirements should be included in fire pre plans.
  • Pandemic Plans: Documents procedures and methods necessary to maintain and restore operations of critical business processes in the event of a pandemic outbreak among the local population and workforce.
  • Additional Natural Disasters: Natural hazards tend to occur repeatedly in the same geographical locations because they are related to weather patterns or physical characteristics of an area. Depending on your specific risks, supplemental plans may be developed for one or more of the following:
    • Floods
    • Tornadoes
    • Thunderstorms and Lightning
    • Winter Storms and Extreme Cold
    • Extreme Heat
    • Earthquakes
    • Volcanoes
    • Landslide and Debris Flow (Mudslide)
    • Tsunamis
    • Wildfires

The planning development stage must include the identification of potential site specific hazards, and the critical responses necessary to respond to those hazards. To ensure consistency, it is a best practice for hazard-specific plans to follow the same layout and organizational format as the main response plan. This allows for familiarity and continuity, which enables the information to be identified and disseminated in a timely manner. Best practices also dictate that plans be developed during normal operational conditions, prior to any threatened outbreak. Training on the specific response plans allows for a complete understanding of assigned responsibilities and processes if an actual incident were to occur.

For an understanding of the necessary elements in creating an effective fire pre plan, download our Fire Pre Planning Guide.

TRP Corp Fire Pre-Plans Pre Fire Plan

Tags: Fire Pre Plans, Event Preparedness, Extreme Weather, Hurricane Preparedness, Flood Preparedness, Emergency Action Plan

Neither Flight or Flight - Shelter In Place Emergency Plan Procedures

Posted on Thu, Feb 21, 2013

In January 2013, a Florida chemical plant experienced a hazardous chemical release. As a result, a loud area warning horn reverberated throughout the community, indicating that a release had occurred. The prevailing winds put homes and schools in the path of the vapor plume. The surrounding schools ordered a shelter-in-place and response procedures were initiated. “When they hear that horn, they (the schools) go into shelter mode. We then verify what has taken place,” said Santa Rosa County Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick.

Evacuation and Sheltering-in-Place are the primary protective actions used to remove personnel from hazards. While employee evacuation is a typical warranted reaction for an emergency response, it may not be the best option if reaction time is limited or during a hazardous chemical release.  Weather-related emergencies or incidents involving chemical, biological, and radiological releases may result in a shelter in place order. Often times during a release or extreme weather, employees are safer to remain indoors rather than attempt to evacuate the area.

It is important to determine the characteristics of a release and/or the current meteorological conditions to determine if the shelter-in-place procedures should be activated. Site-specific criteria, such as building characteristics and shelter-in-place vulnerabilities should be identified and mitigated, if possible. The preparedness process should predetermine shelter-in-place criteria, procedures, assembly points, and routes. However, an Incident Commander should determine if personnel should shelter-in-place or evacuate based on facility circumstances and/or hazardous materials involved.

Just as with an evacuation order, a shelter-in-place activation and implementation is not an instantaneous process.  Sheltering-in-place requires time, employee compliance, training, and exercising. Additionally, buildings selected as the shelters must be able to withstand meteorological conditions, such as a tornado, and/or hazardous fumes infiltration.

The following are general shelter-in-place procedures; however, facilities should institute site-specific measures according to operations, facility structure(s), geographical vulnerabilities, threats and/or hazards.

  • Close the facility to incoming personnel and provide shelter for those visitors at the site.
  • Account for employees within the shelter.
  • Shut and lock all windows and doors.
  • Shut down, seal and/or disable systems that automatically conduct air exchange including all heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems in all buildings.
  • Limit egress to one door or area of the building.
  • Tape all doorways to minimize airflow.
  • Instruct occupants to gather in the center of a room with minimal ventilation, away from doors and windows.
  • If there is danger of glass breaking from explosion or extreme weather, close the window shades, blinds, or curtains to minimize potential impacts to bystanders.
  • Maintain contact with emergency contacts and have the phone available if you need to report a life-threatening condition. Be sure to have a hard-wired telephone in the room(s) you select. Cellular telephone equipment may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency.
  • Gather essential disaster supplies, such as nonperishable food, bottled water, battery-powered radios, first-aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, duct tape, plastic sheeting, and plastic garbage bags if it is determined that the shelter-in-place order will exist for an extended duration.
  • Listen to the radio, watch television, or use the Internet for further instructions from local officials/emergency response team or until you are told all is safe or to evacuate by the Incident Commander. Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community.
  • Contact employees who are absent to alert them of the shelter-in-place status.
  • If possible have employees, customers, clients, and visitors to call their emergency contact to let them know where they are and that they are safe.
  • Communicate when the all-clear message is received.

An Emergency Response Team can be responsible for keeping sheltered employees informed of the situation as it unfolds. Typically, emergencies that require sheltering-in-place will not last more than three to five hours. However, managers may wish to keep extra water and small amounts of non-perishable food on hand in the event the emergency goes beyond 12 hours.

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.

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Tags: Facility Management, Extreme Weather, Workplace Safety, Chemical Industry