Staying Ready: Hurricane Preparedness and your business

| OSHA, USF Safety Florida

Written by Gabriel Garcia, USF SafetyFlorida Safety Supervisor

We should consider ourselves very lucky here in Florida. So far, we have dodged several hurricanes since the beginning of this year’s season. Unfortunately, luck can only take us so far. Along with saving lives, emergency planning and preparation can be critical to expediting recovery efforts and is often the catalyst during an emergency response.

Any emergency response begins with a well laid out emergency action plan. Our government’s response to emergencies provide great examples of this. At the federal level, the National Response Framework, administered by the Department of Homeland Security and executed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), implements the Federal Response Plan (FRP). The FRP describes how the federal government will mobilize federal resources and conduct activities to aid State and Local governments in responding to disasters.

For larger scale disasters, the federal government deploys the FRP to coordinate with all federal, state, county and local municipalities by establishing fifteen (15) Emergency Support Functions (ESF). Some states have additional ESFs. This harmonization takes a lot of planning and effort by all participants.

How to develop a working Emergency Action Plan (EAP)

A good place to start is by identifying the types of plans and the types of potential emergencies present in your environment. Are you preparing a plan for a business or a family? What types of hazards will you encounter? Here in Florida, you may be exposed to many different types of hazards including hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, heat waves, lightning strikes, sinkholes, as well as biological hazards.

It is important to note, although many hazards are similar in nature, different types of hazards create different challenges. Let us use weather patterns as an example. Hurricanes and Tornadoes are very destructive and characterized by high winds; however, hurricanes are slow moving, taking as long as seven (7) days to reach you and can affect your region for weeks, while tornadoes can reach you in minutes with little to no warning.

It is highly advisable to supplement your EAP with a disaster kit. After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Ensure you have enough food, water and supplies to last for a minimum of 72 hours. When developing your disaster kit consider a couple of things. Are you going to shelter in place or evacuate? If you evacuate are you going to a nearby shelter or will you move away from the impacted area? Also, do not forget to include a kit in your car. Driving around in a devastated area can prove dangerous as driving-in or around debris can damage your vehicle.

USF SafetyFlorida Consultation Program has developed a 1.5-hour presentation to help your organization prepare for the moments before, during and after a disaster strikes.

To access the recorded webinar, please visit: https://usf.box.com/s/3q68v4lbp9ns7gy5qkecerubr02wvi8g

Is your organization in need of an Emergency Action Plan? We can help! In just a few clicks our SafetyWriter tool allows you to develop a working EAP (or any other OSHA mandated plan). Additionally, our video library can supplement your training program by providing you access to a variety of training videos in multiple languages covering topics such as natural disaster response and recovery. For more information about USF SafetyFlorida Consultation Program, please visit usfsafetyflorida.com or call toll-free (866) 273-1105.