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Southeast States Batten Down the Hatches for Hurricane Dorian

Follow tips from OSHA and the CDC on hurricane readiness and recovery

September 4, 2019

As Hurricane Dorian heads toward the United States after battering the Bahamas, facility managers are preparing their buildings for the threat of high winds and flooding. They also are putting safety procedures in place for building workers and residents.

Hospitals are among the facilities containing some of the most vulnerable occupants. CNN details how these facilities prepare for hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Hospitals are required to have an emergency plan. Members of the emergency preparedness team coordinate with weather experts, local governments, local law enforcement, ambulance companies, and first responders to keep patients safe and patient families informed. Perhaps the most difficult decision is whether to evacuate patients or shelter them in the facility during the natural disaster.

Hospital staff prepare the facility to weather a storm by moving supplies and equipment to higher floors in case of flooding. They hire extra security due to the threat of vandals and looters. They also ensure the emergency plan provides a backup power source, as some patients may be connected to lifesaving equipment and others are at risk of heat exposure if the air conditioning goes out.

Flood water resulting from hurricanes is hazardous, not only because of the drowning risk but also the risk of picking up illnesses from the contaminated water. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer the following tips for floodwater safety in its hurricane preparedness publication:

  • Turn off all facility utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary.
  • Gather emergency supplies, including prescription medications, flashlights, and battery-operated radios.
  • Get to higher ground without driving through standing water. As little as six inches of water can cause you to lose control of your vehicle, and two feet of water can cause your car to be swept away.

On its hurricane preparedness and response page, the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers the following tips on preparing workers for natural disasters:

  • Ensure that all workers know what to do in case of an emergency.
  • Practice evacuation plans on a regular basis.
  • Update plans and procedures based on lessons learned from exercises.

 

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