7 Ways to Improve Your Facility’s Winter Emergency Plans Today

September 19, 2014

7 Ways to Improve Your Winter Emergency Plans Today

Earlier this year, we reminded you about reviewing your emergency preparedness checklist to be ready in the event of severe summer weather (hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes).

With the football season in full swing and the leaves beginning to turn from green to vibrant red hues and the change in seasons from summer to fall, you may believe your facility made it another year unscathed. Not so fast… Fall is the perfect time to prepare your facility’s winter emergency plans.

Of course, the sun may be shining brightly outside your window while you’re reading this blog, making you wonder why your facility needs a winter emergency plan in the first place.

A recent survey of hospital and health system executives by a consortium of professional organizations (American Society for Healthcare Engineering, Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management and Association for the Healthcare Environment) and Health Facilities Management listed the top 15 reasons a health organization implemented an emergency preparedness plan over the past five years.

The top five reasons cover a multitude of contingencies, but the first one ought to get your attention:

  • Winter storm: 52 percent
  • Power outages and other system failures: 48 percent
  • Tornadoes: 20 percent
  • Floods and hurricanes: 17 percent

These numbers are definitely eye-openers even if you reside in warmer climates, all the more reason to invest some time to be prepared for all kinds of weather.

With that in mind, here are some safety enhancements that can help your facility be ready for a winter storm should it come.

1. Make sure your grounds crews are prepared for wintry weather by investing time training them on efficient snow removal and anti-icing techniques, with a focus on safety first. You’ll also want to download this free best practices list developed by the Snow & Ice Management Association to evaluate snow and ice removal, whether your staff or a contractor does it.

2. In the aforementioned study, 58 percent of the respondents reported the need to switch to emergency power over that same time period due to a disaster. FMs must decrease their facility’s power vulnerabilities while increasing reliabilities throughout their facilities.

3. If your facility doesn’t have slips and falls already under control with a safe floor program in place, now is the time to get started.

4. When Old Man Winter arrives, so do the space heaters and the growing possibility of safety hazards in the workplace. Following these precautions listed in our previous blog post will eliminate most headaches.

5. The National Weather Service describes winter storms as “deceptive killers,” because most deaths are indirectly related to them. If any of your facility management staff hasn’t dealt with the cold and snowy stuff yet, make sure they review a copy of this free brochure produced by FEMA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Red Cross.

6. Have staffers begun checking your facility’s heating systems, completing annual boiler maintenance and making adjustments where they’re necessary?

7. In the event you and your staff are unable to get to your facility, are you able to connect remotely? If you haven’t planned a telecommuting strategy, do so before winter comes.

Look for more suggestions about strategic winter planning for your facility by subscribing to our Facebook and Twitter feeds that are frequently updated each week.

For assistance with getting the most out of your facility management department on time and on budget, contact Vanguard Resources.