June 22, 2021

Be Proactive this Hurricane Season

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GOALS OF THIS GUIDE

June marks the start of hurricane season, a time of year that Louisianans are all too familiar with. Hurricanes can shatter lives, as well as damage property, posing hazards in the form of storm surges, wind damages, rip currents, and flooding. Following an active 2020 season, with 2 major storms making landfall in Southwest Louisiana, it is important that businesses properly prepare. The best time for this is before the threat is imminent.

Here’s what you need to know.

Know the difference: Hurricane Warning vs. Hurricane Watch

Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions are expected. Complete storm preparations and evacuate the threatened area.

Hurricane Watch: Hurricane formation is possible. Prepare your home and/or business and review your evacuation plan in case a hurricane watch is issued. Monitor local news to stay informed.

Being proactive and prepared for this year’s hurricane season can directly affect the outcome of your business’ future. Below are guidelines for preparation provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

BEFORE A STORM

  1. Ensure that any employees who volunteer to stay on site have proper supplies and equipment (drinkable water, nonperishable food, medical supplies, flashlights, etc.). If an official evacuation order is in place however, no employee should remain on site or left behind.
  2. Have cash on hand for post‐storm needs, such as buying supplies or paying employees and contractors.
  3. Ensure you know which employees are certified in CPR, EMT, etc.
  4. Repair and fill above‐ground tanks with fresh water.
  5. Fill fuel tanks of generators, fire pumps, and all company‐owned vehicles.
  6. Remove as many goods as possible from the floor, or ship them out of the facility.
  7. Shut off natural gas supply to minimize fire loss.
  8. Disconnect the main electrical feeds to the facility, if possible, to prevent a potential fire caused by short‐circuiting of damaged equipment.
  9. Ensure remote access to your company’s website so updates about your availability can be made.

DURING A STORM

  1. During the height of a windstorm, personnel should remain in a place that has been identified as safe from wind and flood.
  2. Constantly monitor any equipment that must remain online.
  3. During power failure, turn off electrical switches to prevent reactivation before necessary checks are completed.

AFTER A STORM

  1. Keep listening to radio or TV to make sure the storm has passed.
  2. Wait until an area is declared safe before entering to secure the site and survey damage.
  3. Secure 24‐hour security, if needed.
  4. Watch for closed roads. If you come upon a barricade or a flooded road, turn around, don’t drown.
  5. Survey for safety hazards such as live wires, leaking gas or flammable liquids, poisonous gases, and damage to foundations or underground piping.
  6. Call in key personnel and notify contractors to start repairs. Make sure safety systems are fully implemented before work is allowed to begin. This means controlling smoking and other open flame sources. Require contractors to share responsibility for establishing fire‐safe conditions before and during the job.
  7. Begin salvage as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
  8. Cover broken windows and torn roof coverings immediately.
  9. Separate damaged goods, but beware of accumulating too much combustible debris inside a building.
  10. Clean roof drains and remove debris from roof to prevent drainage problems.

STORMS & COVID-19

Much like everything else, the threat of COVID-19 expands to hurricane readiness. In the event that employees must shelter-in-place or be evacuated, ensure hurricane preparedness kits include necessary supplies to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Aside from the essentials, kits should include disinfectant supplies, cloth face coverings, personal hygiene items, and personal identification. It is imperative to prepare adequate supplies before any storm is registered to ensure access to essential items as there will be an influx of demand once a storm is pending.

LWCC’s Safety Services Team can assist with creating and implementing a safety plan. While they cannot prevent or predict a storm, they can help ensure your business and employees are prepared in the event a storm should come your way.  

More Resources:

LWCC Hurricane Preparation Blog

Ready Business hurricane tool kit

CDC Preparation Tips: Covid-19

National Weather Service: Hurricane Safety

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