Florida’s long season of natural disasters starts in summer. Is your team ready for the worst if one hits your workplace?
- Florida spends six months of the year in the high-risk natural disasters category.
- Floods and fires are the two biggest concerns onsite.
- Awareness and action plans are necessary to counter natural disasters.
- Consulting electrical experts before and after a disaster improves your ability to prepare, endure, and recover.
Preparation for natural disasters is basically a survival skill in Florida. Alligators, snakes, spiders, and bears are part of everybody’s day, and that’s just on the way to the car.
There are even more exciting opportunities to call our insurance companies once we actually reach our jobs. This is because Florida drew the short straw on the workplace disaster front since we’re right in the eye of every tropical storm. Numerous storms, actually, plus depressions and hurricanes. Businesses can be hit hard anytime between June 1 and November 30, with the months directly before and after also high-risk.
This guide will highlight various natural disaster dangers to help your workplace create a triple-tiered awareness plan.
Stage 1: preparing
Everything that relies on electricity in your workplace is either internally or externally vulnerable to wind, rain, floods, and lightning storms. That vulnerability decreases if they’re switched off before trouble strikes, which is why every workplace needs an emergency shutdown plan. Make a shortlist of everything that can be quickly switched off without damaging equipment or stored data.
Florida’s swampy profile means plenty of water is never far away and ready to wash through your workplace’s front door. Keep things safe by remembering the following:
- Anything that floodwater could destroy should be elevated as much as possible from ground level. That is a lot easier for multi-story workplaces to do.
- Single-level businesses must ensure that power cables for computers, monitors, printers, and other electronics are sufficiently raised above the floor.
- Businesses of all property types should regularly backup their data, ideally on removable drives or in the cloud.
- Here’s the FEMA playbook that contains excellent disaster action and awareness advice for floods.
Installing a commercial generator is one of the best ways to get ready for a disaster. No business can rely on a residential generator to back them up. Take the time to choose the right solution for your emergency electrical needs and make sure to maintain it well. You’ll be even better prepared if you have an uninterruptible power supply as part of your emergency shutdown plan. This will give critical systems valuable termination and data preservation time.
Stage 2: acting
Now it’s time to drill everyone ahead of a disaster. Turning off lights, fans, and AC systems is the easy part. Some items may require charging before depowering so they can perform strongly when the power comes back on. Get into the habit of recharging and disconnecting these regularly. This will avoid running out of time when disasters drop by on short notice.
Florida’s natural disasters are mostly thought of as wet and windy, but it pays to remember that they can also start fires through the electrical havoc they cause. Every workplace should have:
- Fire extinguishers
- Smoke and fire alarms
- Clearly designated fire exit routes.
You’ll need at least two unobstructed fire exits to comply with OSHA’s guidelines, and make sure to never make using the elevator part of your fire evacuation route.
A fire action plan should be made available to every current and new employee. It should contain a list of fire risks in the workplace and some best practices like safe smoking in designated areas, keeping water away from electrics, and generator handling.
A workplace-wide notification system must also be put in place to communicate whether you’re running a drill. Send alerts to every employee’s personal device and workstation because, believe it or not, some people don’t always take a fire alarm as cause for alarm.
Every action plan needs a designated leader and a deputy as backup. Decide who will fill the role of enforcing and guiding disaster responses to avoid panic, confusion, and contradictory messages. Call first responders if the blaze is bigger than an extinguisher can handle, then meet up in a designated spot outside for a head count.
Stage 3: recovering
Hopefully this is the point where your emergency startup procedures kick in and everyone gets back to business, but it’s not always that smooth. Sometimes you have to avoid flooded or burned-out areas until everything is given the “all clear” by first responders.
There’s still a silver lining even when you’re watching your desktop float by on a swim tube, though. Being hit badly by a natural disaster can actually be a blessing in disguise when it comes to workplace safety. Pre-disaster workplaces may have been chugging along on a mixture of complete ignorance and financial reluctance when it came to assessing and repairing their electrical systems. This is no way to run a railroad and can be incredibly reckless.
Post-disaster businesses have no choice but to look their electrical condition in the face and see just how much it’s struggling. It’s the ideal opportunity for a reboot and to get the professionals involved in building things back up to a new level of code compliance and overall safety. The experts can tell you what can be salvaged and what needs to be replaced. No expense should be spared based on their recommendations. Employers are directly responsible for creating and maintaining a work environment where employees are safe.
Speak to the Universal Electrical experts with any questions
It may be tempting to save a buck, but cutting corners will only set you up for even more expensive trouble down the line through equipment breakdowns, data loss, employee injury compensation claims and lawsuits, or fines from operating authorities for non-compliance. It’s not all about spending cash, though! Power pros like the Universal Electrical Team can help you select upgrades which actually save you money in future.
We have more than 20 years of experience in diagnosing electrical issues, providing top-class maintenance, and helping different industries rehaul their existing electrical systems or install brand-new ones. Visit our contact page if you have any questions or concerns and we’ll be happy to help!