Preparing For Storms – How to Create a More Effective Disaster Plan
When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2020, I spent time organizing storm training exercises and assessing how I could improve my storm planning practices. The focus of the exercise was primarily on communication during a storm, which is vital in any emergency situation.
In the wake of the devastating hurricanes that have occurred in the last decade, most companies have looked to incorporate some form of drills or storm training exercises into their disaster plan. These exercises allow for a sort of reality check, with operations being compared to the worst storm scenarios. It is in this kind of scenario that the differences between a good and bad hurricane plan can be highlighted, leading to improvements in planning or a complete overhaul of hurricane plans and procedures.
Hurricane Katrina demonstrated clearly that even small changes in preparation can make a world of difference in terms of preventing the inevitable and saving lives and property. The message that must be sent to employees alike is: we are stronger together than we are apart. Building relationships with your staff helps ensure everyone is on the same page and prepared for the worst. Since so many employees were in shock from the storm, it is important that you keep everyone focused on recovery efforts and the need to stay in their home during the rebuilding process.
Ensuring everyone understands your hurricane plan is the best way to ensure that the plan is fully operational, all members of the staff are aware of what steps they need to take, and that your employees know exactly where to go if there is a storm. You will want to train as many people as possible to learn the basics of storm preparation, so that you can reduce the chance of it happening in the first place. Familiarizing yourself with local weather conditions and the recent history of hurricanes can go a long way in order to prepare your team.
The type of storm training exercises that you decide to implement will depend on your company’s situation. Some companies choose to use small simulation exercises, while others may require a full-scale hurricane simulation, involving businesses and homes alike. Regardless of the scenario, you will want to consider training the staff in the following areas:
Evacuation. In a simulation, it is critical that all staff understand their evacuation procedures. In a real life situation, staff needs to know what to do if evacuation is required and where to go if the company is ordered to evacuate. As well, people need to know when to notify local authorities, as well as what questions to ask in order to prepare themselves for the disaster.
All hands on deck. Once a storm has passed, it is important to let everyone know where everyone is at all times. Because many homes were not completely damaged by the storm, the staff needs to know how to get in contact with each individual and know when to call someone and how to send help if needed. Evacuation also needs to be covered, as any storm planning exercise is only as good as the communication methods used.
Training all employees to participate in your evacuation should be one of the first things you do once the storm is over. Without knowledge of the mechanics of an evacuation, disaster could still occur and your family could lose their home. Having everyone know how to get out should be the number one priority. With some careful planning and communication from the company, you should be able to create an effective evacuation plan.