Be Prepared from Maine to Florida - It’s Hurricane Season Again

Be Prepared from Maine to Florida - It’s Hurricane Season Again

Since 1910, the Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared has been used to teach more than 111 million scouts around the world the importance of being ready at all times. 

Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting Movement explained the motto…  “Be Prepared in Mind by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that might occur, so that you know the right thing to do at the right moment, and are willing to do it. Be Prepared in Body by making yourself strong and active and able to do the right thing at the right moment, and do it.”

It’s a great motto for the scouts, but employers should also put Robert Baden-Powell’s words into practice when considering hurricane season.  The 2018 season started early with Tropical Storm Alberto forming on May 25.  Alberto made landfall in Florida, but traveled as far north as the Great Lakes as a tropical depression.  The season produced 15 named storms causing billions of dollars in damage.  Clearly these storms present a serious safety hazard for businesses throughout the eastern U.S.  Can your leaders and employees answer these questions?

  • What’s the difference between a watch and a warning… for a tropical storm?  For a hurricane?
  • What are common hazards associated with preparing?  Overexertion, ladder safety, and heat stress come to mind.
  • What wind speed is safe to drive in during a storm?
  • What hazards are associated with cleaning up and the aftermath of a storm?
  • What is your responsibility as an employer?

The reality is that these storms pose a threat to every business segment across a huge portion of the country.  The safety of each worker is primary of course, but also consider business continuity issues when roads are closed, utilities knocked out, and structures destroyed or flooded.  Keeping employees safe and getting a business back up and operating can be an onerous task, especially if a well-rehearsed plan isn’t in place.  As we face the 2019 season, many gulf communities are still in the initial recovery stages after Hurricane Michael devastated the region in October 2018.  

The hurricane season officially started on Saturday, June 1, and will be with us through November 30.  If you do business in a location potentially affected by hurricanes, it is time to dust off last year’s policy and assess if updates or changes are needed.  It’s also a good time to review your staff training materials, and share the disaster plan with your team. 

Hurricanes and tropical storms threaten every business from Maine to Florida, the Midwest to the Gulf Coast.  We can’t stop them from heading our way, but a bit of preparation can go a long way towards protecting life and property.  So put on your scout uniform and be prepared!  If you don’t have a plan or think it may be time to upgrade current plans there are many resources available:

  • OSHA Hurricane Preparedness and Response - an extensive set of resources covering preparedness but also multiple related issues.  Topics such as Filling, Moving, and Placing Sandbags, Rescue of Animals, Tree Trimming, Working Outdoors, and Rodents, Snakes, and Insects are all covered with OSHA QuickCards or Fact Sheets.
  • The National Hurricane Survival Initiative - A business focused site devoted to preparedness and recovery.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) - this link provides a full booklet entitled, “Prepare Your Organization for a Hurricane Playbook.” A second FEMA resource for businesses can be found here:  Hurricane Toolkit.
  • Ready.gov - a vast website covering all versions of natural and human-made disaster preparedness and recovery.  This includes cybersecurity, avalanche, earthquake, and active shooter resource pages.  Click here for their hurricane planning information.

By Natalie Campaneria