One of the great unknowns, severe weather happens everywhere, at any time, causing untold devastation often with little to no advanced warning.
What’s more, businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, aren’t doing particularly well preparing for emergency weather incidents. According to FEMA, 40 percent of small businesses don’t reopen after a natural disaster. Among those that manage to get through the severe weather emergency, only 29 percent remain operational two years later.
So what is that businesses can do to adequately prepare themselves for severe weather situations?
For starters, you need to know the likeliest weather scenarios for your area. Regionally-specific examples in the U.S. include the following:
Tropical cyclone seasons around the world:
With your risk assessment completed, preparations should now turn to developing and implementing your severe weather plan. Before beginning the plan, it’s critical to consider a couple of factors: the plan’s purpose and its scope. In other words, lay out what you are trying to accomplish with the plan, and what material will be covered in it.
As you’d imagine, goals and objectives vary depending on the design of the site (building location), available resources, coordination with external agencies, etc.
When tailoring your plan to your site’s specific design, consider consulting a qualified engineer or architect, preferably someone who has advanced knowledge of and experience with your building. That person should be able to identify safety zones within the structure, normally small interior rooms, bathrooms, windowless interior hallways, as well as explicitly proscribe areas to avoid, usually larger rooms (like cafeterias or auditoriums) with expansive roofs.
What else will the plan accomplish? It outlines roles, responsibilities, and duties for site supervisors and other staff members centrally involved in managing the emergency. Essentially, a well-conceived plan will cover all of the following items (even more if you’ve deemed it necessary based on a thorough site-specific risk assessment):
- Well-articulated protocols to follow during severe weather incidents
- Clear definitions of teams assigned to the incident
- Roles, responsibilities, and expectations for all team members (and staff)
- Clear action plans to execute
- An evacuation strategy
- Other high-level considerations to follow
Of course, preparedness doesn’t end with severe weather disaster planning. Give serious thought to what your business will do to recover from a natural disaster and work closely with emergency responder agencies in your area. To learn more, download our handy how-to guide to developing a severe weather action plan.
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