Hurricane season is in full swing. If you live in a hurricane zone, you should take time each year to review your hurricane plan for the home and the workplace.
IMPORTANT: If your area has been ordered to evacuate − do it. Do not wait.
Hurricanes are not as swift or as sudden as a tornadoes, but the power of a hurricane that hovers for several hours in one location can cause irreparable damage and block emergency access for days.
If you have a hurricane plan, review it. If you do not have a hurricane plan, start one.
Many of the same checkpoints apply whether you have a plan in place or not. Incorporate government materials that are already available for your use. Use these review points as a place to begin reviewing or creating your plan.
- Put together a written hurricane preparedness plan.
- Draft pictorial escape route maps.
- Make sure fire extinguishers are identified on the map and that people know how to use fire extinguishers.
- Identify gas, electrical and water mains on the map, if possible. Train key people on how to identify and turn off the gas, electricity, and water mains, if needed.
- Designate a shelter area (preferably a room without windows and in the center of the building) or find out where the community shelters are located.
- Take stock of your medical supplies kit and replace any supply that is running low.
- Take stock of your food and potable water reserves. Make sure you have a few days worth. Stored them in a water-tight container in area you can easily access.
- Store extra cash for essentials – ATMs and banks will not be open.
- Make sure you have backup batteries for electronics, such as flashlights and two-way radios.
- Communicate the plan with your employees. Consider adding this and any other safety planning to your new hire orientation materials.
- Train your staff on what to do during an emergency.
- Communicate the plan. Rehearse the plan. Review/retrain the plan.
- Update staff phone lists and consider creating a phone tree.
- Make a communication plan in the event that there is a phone blackout. For example, have two-way radios onsite. Identify key people to use these radios. Make sure they are trained on how to use the radios, including the designated emergency channel setting.
- Backup any important documents on servers not located in the hurricane zone, such as a cloud-based system.
- Store any important documents in water-tight containers.
If a hurricane strikes your area, there is an entirely different set of actions you’ll need to consider. There are too many after-the-storm issues to cover in this article. But comprehensive plans should also include topics such as cleanup strategies to deter mold growth in your home or business, food and water safety, hygiene, changes of clothing, transportation, tending to people with special needs, access to medication, respiratory illnesses, lack of cooling systems which can lead to heat-related illnesses, caring for the injured and wounded. These are only a few of the many concerns you could be faced with.
With a solid plan in place,
your time can be dedicated to handling the unexpected aftermath instead of worry about basic necessities like water to drink or access to basic first aid. Successfully getting through the things you cannot anticipate or plan for is often why you must create a plan in the first place. You can then become part of the solution.
Think of forming a safety committee at your workplace. Always remember to communicate and train your employees on the plans you put into place. Use what is already available to you. Fact sheets and cards can help to serve as quick reminders and are great take-away materials after any training. You can make them yourself or search the internet for options. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is a great source as are the links below.
No matter the stage of planning you are in, continue to forge ahead and get the basics down. As always, journey safely.
CDC Education materials (posters, fact sheets, cards)