Facility Emergency Preparedness before Severe Weather Season, AKA Springtime in Tornado Alley

In recent years, scientists have found "Tornado Alley" may have shifted to the east. While the mid-west continues to experience its share of tornadoes, the violent storms have produced high-intensity vortices in the eastern mid-west and the southeastern U.S. The traditional area of "Tornado Alley," including Texas and Oklahoma, continue to see their fair share of storms. However, the most violent and long-lasted tornadoes appear more often and more dangerous to the east, reports USA Today. Unfortunately, this means building design in areas new to the threat may be more susceptible to damage and long-term recovery. Facilities Managers need to understand the risk of tornadoes in spring, the value of emergency preparedness and how to ensure their facilities are ready for the next disaster. 

What Has Caused Tornado Alley to Shift?

There is much debate surrounding this issue. Some argue for climate change, and others look to the natural cycle of Mother Nature. The data does not lie. The most damaging and intense storms have occurred further east than history teaches. The only thing businesses can do is prepare. Failure to prepare may result in cascading equipment failure, irreparable damage to facilities and even loss of life.

Facilities Managers Must Consider Emergency Facility Preparedness

It's not enough to simply want to do more to prevent damage. Facilities Managers need to assess their facilities, especially outdoor areas, for risk and damage. The threat of severe weather cannot be stopped, at least not with today's technology. The capabilities in the Facilities Managers' wheelhouse allow for better planning and preparedness.

For example, training staff on how to respond to a threat of severe weather and posting safe-zone locations in the facility can go a long way in reducing risk. Furthermore, additional measures, such as securing outdoor amenities, may reduce the damage inflicted by severe storms.

Now many people may not be outside when the threat of severe storms is high. However, some facilities, such as health care facilities and those operating around-the-clock businesses, may not have the luxury of fewer consumers during severe weather. Thus, the only solution is to create a robust plan to respond to and recovery from such disasters.

 

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How to Create a Successful Severe Weather Preparedness Plan

Successful severe weather preparedness plans consider current facilities management capabilities, the threat of severe weather and other factors. Facility Managers should follow the steps to craft a successful strategy:

  1. Identify the time most likely to result in severe weather in your area.
  2. Recognize the threats to your organization, such as tornadoes, hurricanes or even wildfires.
  3. Create a plan for both shelter-and-place and evacuation of your facility, depending on the type of severe weather.
  4. Work with community resources to ensure those in your facility have access to safe areas if severe weather occurs and presents an acceptable risk to your employees and other building occupants.
  5. Reinforce facility assets, including building materials, windows, roofing materials, and ground features, to reduce the risk of damage or injury from debris.
  6. Ensure that team members understand how to respond when severe weather occurs.

Plan for Worsening Weather Now, Before the Storm Strikes

The arrival of spring brings severe storm season, and recent years have shown the severity of storms have increased further away from tornado alley then history teaches. Facilities Managers need to act now and plan for the increased incidence of severe weather before storms occur. Ultimately, failure to plan will result in the potential for loss allies, extenuating disruptions and long-term consequences for your brand.

Eric Crabb

Eric Crabb