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Preparing Your Business for Severe Weather During a Crisis

Mar 19, 2020

With COVID-19 impacting businesses worldwide, it’s hard to focus on anything else. Unfortunately, the weather has no plans to let up, and businesses still need to be prepared. To help support you in this hectic time, we’ve listed some steps you can take to better distribute your resources to stay ahead of any storm.

A crisis like COVID-19 straps resources and makes time even more of a limited commodity. Normally, your company’s Emergency Managers can devote time to staying current on severe weather developments. In times like this, they barely have a minute to spare.

The timing of the outbreak couldn’t be worse. The United States is already seeing the typical severe weather of spring, marked by tornadoes in Nashville, flooding in Arizona, and severe thunderstorms across the country. Both severe weather and COVID-19 will impact how you focus resources for months to come. One misstep could have lasting impacts on the resiliency of your operations.

We understand it’s hard to think of anything else besides COVID-19 at the moment. To make it easier for you, here are some steps you can take to ensure you’re prepared and that your focus is distributed effectively:

Update employees’ personal emergency plans

Any time staff work remotely or off-site, it can become a significant challenge to keep track of each employee’s location. However, this is crucial information during a severe weather event. Maintaining robust, updated records of staff addresses means you won’t have to spend time tracking them down later.

Severe weather may not impact remote employees all in the same way. Enable staff to stay informed of the weather at their specific location with apps that let them track based on location—such as the “follow-me” alerts in the StormGeo app.

Next, ensure each staff member has a plan in place for where to shelter their families during severe weather. Clarify that your company may not have space for them to wait out the storm. In circumstances like what we’re facing today, remind staff that their families would be vulnerable to COVID-19 in any plan which incorporates a potentially crowded space.

Having personal emergency plans in place for staff enables you to focus on the crisis at hand, while giving them peace of mind knowing their families are protected. This allows them to focus on maintaining operations even in the face of a crisis.

Be ready for potential power outages

Have backup satellite phones ready to use and distribute in case you lose power and phone lines go down. Check that your backup power generators are functioning and able to last for an extended period of time. Know where you can reduce power consumption in case you need to divert resources to areas in critical need.

If backup work locations are incorporated in your severe weather emergency plans, consider that these locations may not be available should you and your staff be on mandatory lock-down. Have an alternate plan ready just in case.

If you do have critical staff working remotely, they will each need to have their own backup electricity plans. Keep in mind that not everyone has a backup generator or satellite phone readily available, and plan accordingly.

Build up emergency supplies where possible

In a time of crisis, supplies will likely be low for some time, especially if your vendors are also being impacted. While keeping supplies fully stocked may be difficult during the COVID-19 chaos, you should try to make space for severe weather event planning now so you’re not caught empty handed later.

Think ahead on what additional supplies you might need to accommodate severe weather. Consider how these stocks will be maintained over the next few months, and what steps you can take should supplies begin to run short.

Your employees working at home may not have access to your emergency supplies particularly during periods of mandated social distancing. You should either supply your employees with personal emergency kits, or provide guidance on how assemble a kit on their own.

Here is a list of emergency supplies we recommend for businesses and individuals: 

Emergency Prep Kit2

Avoid overloading your maintenance crews

Your maintenance crews will be running a pretty tight schedule over the coming months. A prepared crew will be able to manage their time in advance so that they’re not overloaded with immediate needs at once.

The crew should be taking time now to ensure your system is functioning well and that there are no lingering needs that could become a headache later. Have the crew ensure your AC and filtration systems are fully functional; trim trees that could become hazards during a storm; and check windows for leaks and cracks. Service or repair any items that need it before a storm makes that impossible. 

Create a temporary structure plan

You may find that you need to build temporary structures such as tents to enable operations to continue. When planning the deployment of temporary structures, make sure your plan takes into account the variables that could create challenges.

For example, national weather services don’t often issue wind alerts for lower wind speeds, however the wind speed threshold for tents is between just 25 and 30 mph. Any higher wind speed could pull up or knock over tents—damaging essential supplies and injuring your staff.

Regardless of forecasted wind speed, your temporary structures need to be secure. Tents should be ballasted and staked correctly. Crews responsible for building the temporary structures should be familiar with the design and setup of these structures. They should also be briefed on potential weather hazards, such as lightning, which should be factored in when planning the location and layout of the temporary structures.

We’re here to help

Whatever the eventual trajectory of the crisis you’re facing, you can expect severe weather to continue. Let StormGeo worry about tracking the weather so you and your team don’t have to. We’ll monitor the conditions for your specific location and keep you updated should anything arise—helping you focus resources where you need them.

This is a tough time for everyone, but we will get through it. However long the outbreak lasts, let’s get through it together.