It’s crucial for all businesses to have an emergency plan in the event of severe weather. A planned procedure will not only keep you, your employees and customers safe, but also ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
When creating a business emergency plan, refer to and follow any local, state, or federal safety regulations. Consider consulting your local fire marshal for assistance. Some insurance companies will also provide help with disaster planning and mitigation. As some of the first people to arrive at the scene after severe weather strikes, they are valuable sources of information.
Getting Started on Your Severe Weather Plan
While building your business emergency plan, identify the best place of shelter for each type of weather situation that could impact your business. To prepare for a tornado, clearly label the safest area and ensure that there is enough space for all employees and customers. Ideal shelter areas are basement or interior rooms with reinforced construction and no windows. Large areas such as auditoriums or warehouses should not be used as safe areas because they are more prone to collapse. Occasionally remind employees where to go during a tornado warning, and consider practicing your safety procedures by conducting periodic tornado drills.
Because every second counts when severe weather strikes, shelter areas should be easily accessible and labeled appropriately. Install back-up floodlights or generators to keep hallways and staircases lit in case of power failure, and make sure shelter areas don’t require elevator use. Maintain a stock of emergency supplies at each shelter location, such as fire extinguishers, flashlights/batteries, first aid kit, drinking water, NOAA weather alert radio/batteries and necessary tools.
In order to keep employees and customers safe, each manager or department head should have a NOAA-certified weather alert radio to receive instant warnings. They should also be aware of the procedure to follow in each weather situation. Broadcast clear directions and shelter locations over a PA or speaker system, and designate multiple employees who can do this.
Developing a business emergency plan can help ensure the safety of your employees and customers in the event of severe weather. For more information, visit ready.gov.