Get a Head Start in Advance of Specific Severe Weather Threats
Get a Head Start in Advance of Specific Severe Weather Threats
While emergency planning ideally is a twelve-month priority, the start of the severe weather season in your area is a good time to refocus your efforts. This is the time to:
- Designate an employee to monitor weather reports and alert your team to the potential of severe weather.
- Review your business continuity plan and update as needed, including employee contact information.
- Remind employees of key elements of the plan, including post-event communications procedures and work/payroll procedures. Make sure all employees have a paper copy of the plan. Review emergency shutdown and start-up procedures, such as electrical systems, with appropriate personnel, including alternates.
- If back-up power such as a diesel generator is to be used, test your system and establish proper contracts with fuel suppliers for emergency fuel deliveries.
- Re-inspect and replenish emergency supplies inventory, since emergency supplies are often used during the offseason for non-emergency situations.
- Test all life safety equipment.
- Conduct training/simulation exercises for both your business continuity and emergency preparedness/response plans.
5 Days Before Storm Conditions – Start to Focus on What Needs to Get Done
- Notify employees of the potential for severe weather and to be prepared for the emergency plan possibly to be implemented.
- Inspect the roof and grounds for loose debris, which may become a hazard in high winds. If staff or temporary help is available, begin removal of the debris, otherwise the removal may be done at the 72-hour interval.
- Provide a list of storm tips and needed supplies to help your employees prepare their homes and families. The Insurance Information Institute (III) has developed a free “Know Your Plan” app to help families make their own emergency plan; it also features property protection guidance from IBHS. The app is available in iTunes, or by searching “Insurance Information Institute” in the App store from any Apple device.
- Ensure all employees have your business’ designated emergency telephone numbers and key contact other information (i.e., employee emergency wallet card).
72 Hours before Storm Conditions—Time to Activate the Plan
- If not completed already, remove or secure all loose roof and ground items, including landscaping that may become wind-borne debris.
- Clear roof drains, gutters and downspouts of debris, to prevent water back-up
- Clean out all debris from outdoor perimeter drains, especially in areas where water may collect such as shipping and receiving areas where the ground slopes towards the building.
- Fill emergency generators with fuel and contact fuel suppliers with anticipated needs for post-storm deliveries.
- Ensure fire protection systems are in proper working order.
- Notify key customers, suppliers, and partners of office/facility closing and contingency plans (post office, Fed Ex, UPS, cleaning service, building management, vendors, etc.).
- Make decisions on when to excuse employees so that they have sufficient time to prepare their homes and families, and notify employees of office closure details.
- Make any necessary alternative travel arrangements for employees away on business.
- Customize messages for business’ website, telephone recording, employee intranet, etc.
- Decide which outstanding invoices, bills, expense reports, etc. should be paid by your accounts payable department, before a possible closure
- Instruct employees with laptops to take them home at the end of each day and confirm that they can connect to your business’ server from home.
- Remind employees to make sure their cell phones are fully charged and that they have a power cord and car charger.
- Advise employees to begin checking your employee emergency hotline and/or company intranet/website for updates on the status of your office/facility.
48 – 24 Hours before Storm Conditions – Finalize Preparations and Make Sure Employees are Safe
- Process accounts payable and payroll. Protect or relocate vital records.
- Make sure all employees with calling responsibilities have the most updated version of the company telephone call list and have it in multiple formats (hard copy, electronically, etc.).
- For hurricanes and other high wind events, install window protection; if window protection is unavailable, close all window blinds, and cover office equipment with plastic sheets or tarps.
- Close and lock all office doors, especially perimeter offices.
- If you expect your building to be exposed to flooding or storm surge, seal all water entry points such as utility penetrations into the building and install flood protection including first-floor drain plugs.
- Conduct full/partial shutdown procedures. If volunteers are to remain onsite during the storm, make sure they can remain in a safe and secure area. If conditions permit, instruct them on how to monitor, document, and mitigate against leaks and water infiltration in critical areas with vital equipment.
- Advise employees to check the status of your office/facility at least twice per day.
- Disconnect all electrical equipment and unplug from power source.
- Place a “Closed” notice on office/facility main entrance.
During and Immediately After the Storm
- Update employee emergency hotline and/or company intranet and company website with postings on the status of your operations.
- Activate the company telephone call list process, in order to contact all employees regarding the status of your office/facility.
- Designate times for key staff members to call into conference calls for situation overviews.
Recovery: After the Storm
- Designated personnel should return to the facility, assess conditions, document damages, and notify the emergency operations teams of their findings.
- When it is deemed safe, designated personnel should begin start-up procedures.
- When all safety and operational concerns are addressed and an “All Clear” is provided, employees can return to work.
- Activate employee communications tools and local media contacts to give notice of re-opening.
- Take an overall inventory, including photos of all damaged property, and report damage and related expenses to your insurance company.
- Employees returning to the building should be instructed to examine their work area, test all office equipment and report findings back to the designated staff contact.
- Notify key customers, suppliers, and partners of office/facility re-opening and any necessary property or operational changes resulting from storm damage.