Plan Ahead for Severe Weather

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Plan Ahead for Severe Weather

Plan Ahead for Severe Weather

Severe weather events like lightning, tornados, damaging winds, and flash floods require quick, pre-planned actions to ensure staff and visitors in your building are safe from harm. And, having a disaster recovery plan in place now may help save your business from failing if your building is damaged by severe weather.

The first step is to have a defined Severe Weather / Shelter plan. All buildings should have designated “Areas of Refuge” where occupants take shelter during severe weather. (See the FEMA Areas of Refuge link below) Moving people to these areas quickly and safely is key to surviving a catastrophic storm. The fact that fires and floods may accompany severe weather makes comprehensive planning even more important. 

  • Shelter locations should be identified and clearly marked.  Signage should be designed to help guide people to these locations. 
  • Power to the building may fail. Locate direction signs near emergency lighting, and have backup power options in place for emergency paging and messaging systems. 
  • Implement employee training programs to ensure your staff can quickly act, and help others who may not be familiar with your facility. When was the last time you practiced a storm drill?
  • Pre-recorded paging announcements, digital message boards, and automated text messages can provide clear, unemotional directions to occupants to minimize panic.

Review the FEMA documents linked below for helpful tips and best practices to plan and train for severe weather. 

If your business is hit with significant storm damage, the recovery process can be overwhelming. Here are some unsettling statistics from FEMA and US Department of Labor:

  • Immediately after a natural disaster, 40% of small businesses do not reopen
  • One year later, 25% more small businesses close
  • After three years, 75% of businesses without a continuity plan fail

Severe Storm damage can affect long term business viability in a variety of ways. A continuity plan can help you identify and prepare for your vulnerabilities. Here a few of the most common business concerns:

  • Significant damage to buildings, rooftop HVAC, machinery, vehicles, and prolonged power outages
  • Damage to computers, vital records & data storage, copiers, phone, and internet infrastructure
  • Loss of inventory, parts and business supplies
  • Staff unable to get to work, personal storm-related emergencies
  • Diminished cash flow, continuing payroll obligations

It can be difficult to recover from these types of hardships. It’s not surprising that businesses and communities that develop plans to share resources often fair better than those who are unprepared and attempt to survive on their own. The document links below from and provide a good first step for planning and preparing for severe weather. 

Areas of Refuge Guide:fema_p_431

Tornado & Severe Wind ToolkitSevere_Wind_Tornado_Ready_Business_Toolkit_Interactive_Final_508

Business Emergency Planning Guide:FEMA Business_SamplePlan_2014


Torrence designs and installs Mass Notification systems, Automated Paging Announcements,  Emergency Messaging systems, Commercial Power Conditioning  / Surge Protection systems, and Communications Battery Backup / UPS systems.  Contact us for a free onsite consultation and quote. 

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