As our climate continues to change at a steady pace, and weather patterns change as a result, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to assume a business will receive the same weather impacts on a year-to-year basis that they have experienced in the past. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), long-term changes in climate cause potentially disruptive variations in weather patterns such as increased precipitation and flooding, higher tropical activity, river flooding, drought, elevated fire weather, and changes in regions affected by severe weather.
If weather has never personally impacted your business in a significant way, or hasn’t affected you recently, it might feel like you could get by with having a more generic response plan in your back pocket. But what happens when a significant weather event does come your way and halts your operations - providing a scenario that your team did not plan for? How should your employees respond? How should your facilities adjust operations? How do you make sure everything runs smoothly when you didn’t plan for this? There are several reasons why implementing an enhanced weather response plan can benefit you:
- Streamline employee response in an efficient way – When you build a thorough response plan that is well thought out and easily understood, employees can more easily act as requested without added confusion. In order to avoid finding yourself in a situation where the safety of employees or the operation of the business is threatened due to confusion, your plan should include clear details on the following scenarios:
- Clear details on communicating each step of the action plan.
- Backup instructions, in case the first line of communication is unavailable
- Instructions for employees onsite and off-site. This is especially vital if the emergency happens during off hours. Be sure to designate who needs to return to the facilities to ensure the plan is enacted smoothly.
- Instructions on how to close down the business or maintain minor disruption throughout the weather event.
- No gaps in your plan – Enhance your response plan to include details for all weather perils, even if they may seem to have a small impact, to ensure for a smooth transition into emergency response when the time comes for action. The climate is changing, and as a result, weather patterns are changing regionally as well. What may seem like an insignificant impact now, may grow to be increasingly more prominent in future years. It is better to already be prepared for when that scenario comes your way.
- Cost savings – An enhanced weather response plan will decrease the potential for losses when dealing with unexpected weather impacts. If your business has an extensive plan for shutdowns, employee safety, facility preparations, and travel instructions, this will help prevent excess costs incurred from confusion during response or damages due to insufficient shutdowns.
- Employee safety – The perfect response plan will protect the business, the employees, and everything in between. Your employees are the ticket to having a smooth response to weather incidents. Having an enhanced response plan reduces the risk of putting employee safety in jeopardy during an unexpected weather event. When all parties know what they should be doing during a certain scenario, the focus can shift towards ensuring efficient business operations throughout the event.
The year 2020 now marks the sixth consecutive year to have more than ten billion-dollar weather disasters impact the United States. Weather impacts are no longer a matter of if, but they are now a matter of when they will affect your business and enhanced weather response plans should be an important part of your operations. StormGeo recommends businesses follow these tips to ensure a well-rounded response plan.
- Make sure to account for all weather perils – Write your response plan to include as many weather perils as you anticipate might have an impact to your business. This will ensure that you have thought about the types of response you would want from your employees as a result of a specific weather event and will help to reduce confusion in the moment. A more generic plan that doesn’t address weather specifics may leave room for improvising on the part of your employees, which will lower efficiency and add risk.
- Think about unique situations that may occur while a weather event is impacting your business – Sometimes you will be caught in a scenario that may not be your normal workflow while also having to respond to weather impacts. For example, COVID-19 has already demonstrated how quickly a work environment can change as a result of uncontrollable circumstances. How would your response plan account for employees being in a work-from-home scenario while having to ensure operations continue to run smoothly and also respond safely to a significant weather event? Try to include as many of these exceptions in your response plan in order to ensure continuity if that situation were to occur.
- Build in a drill scenario or provide situational examples – Building a few drill scenarios for your employees will help them set expectations for future weather events and will allow them to recognize the flow of actions that need to be taken when the time comes. Even if you start by including a few examples of what to do during certain weather events, this can help paint the picture for when real action is required of them.
- Employ a site-specific weather provider – Having a site-specific weather provider as the personal weather department for your business can save interpretation time and future costs due to unexpected weather events. StormGeo can provide your business tailored weather information based on your critical pain points to help you make guided weather decisions that will safeguard your business. A site-specific weather provider such as StormGeo can also review your weather response plan to ensure you are including all aspects of emergency preparations.
The more information that you can include in your weather response plans going forward, the better you and your team will be prepared when weather strikes. Impacts from significant weather events can be inevitable and costly, but a proactive approach to preparedness can help combat these challenges. StormGeo is happy to provide advanced decision support to our clients 24/7/365 and will always be here to guide you through your response process.
Learn more about how StormGeo can help your business minimize distruptions due to extreme weather.