Safety Advisor: Extreme Weather and Other Disasters: Be Prepared with an Emergency Action Plan

Hurricanes, heavy rains, flash floods, major winter storms and other disasters can endanger your business and put your drivers and their cargo at risk. Protect your drivers and your business by developing an emergency action plan.

Emergency Action Plan

Advanced preparation can prevent or substantially reduce the chance of loss. Include the following steps when developing your emergency action plan:

  • Designate an emergency coordinator responsible for your emergency action plan.
  • Establish chain-of-command and communication procedures, including methods of locating and verifying status of all trucks, trailers and drivers. Tracking methods could consist of electronic tracking systems, radios, cell phones or a simple check-in policy.
  • Identify communication resources such as road and weather report services, emergency responders, etc. When selecting your communication resources, consider the following:
    • Can the information be accessed by all those who need it in a crisis?
    • In the event of a power loss, will the contact information be available?
    • How often is the information updated?
  • Detail your emergency action plan in writing. List individuals responsible for plan action and coordination, as well as procedures to be taken in the event of an emergency. Ensure your emergency action plan is flexible enough to cover any emergency that could arise, such as terrorism, crime and severe weather.
  • Train your drivers on techniques for driving in adverse weather, their roles in your emergency action plan and how to report emergency conditions in their respective areas.
  • Run drills periodically to rehearse your emergency action plan.
  • Track weather conditions in all areas of the country where you operate. Computer-based weather report services are available to alert you to adverse weather conditions. You can also find helpful resources and road weather management links at the Federal Highway Administration Web site, www.fhwa.dot.gov.
  • Be prepared to shift, reroute or suspend traffic if dangerous conditions arise.
  • Add a security component to your emergency action plan to protect against crime and terrorism.

Protecting Your Facilities

Your emergency action plan should also address weather-related emergencies that could affect your office and terminal locations. Follow these tips to protect your facilities:

Hurricanes or Windstorms

  • Protect windows and doors.
  • Ensure roof and edge flashing are watertight.
  • Cover computers and electronics to prevent water infiltration.
  • Shut off your building’s utilities.
  • Anchor any loose objects located outside the building.

Floods

  • Determine whether your business is located in a flood zone and, if so, what type it is.
  • Determine the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) in your area to see if floods might affect your business. Ask your local zoning or planning office for help in determining your business’ BFE. They can also provide flood plain and flood hazard information and maps.
  • Install and maintain a sump pump if your floors are below the BFE. 
  • Raise all utilities and equipment above the BFE.
  • Use areas above the BFE for inventory, including truck and trailer parking. Avoid using areas below the BFE for storing any business assets subject to flood damage.
  • When flooding in your local area is an imminent possibility, transfer your inventory to a safe facility. Move any units that cannot be relocated to a protected side of a building or lot.

Protecting Business Records

The loss of records, files and documents from a disaster can add to damage costs and delay your return to normal operations. The longer these records are unavailable, the more likely you are to permanently lose customers. To protect your important documents, first consider their vulnerability to different types of disasters (flood, fire, etc.) and take the following steps:

  • Keep computers above flood level and away from large windows.
  • Store vital documents in a secure off-site location.
  • Back up electronic files and store copies off-site.
  • Protect against theft or fire by storing records in a secure, fireproof location.

Your emergency action plan can protect your drivers and your business in the event of a weather-related emergency or other disaster. Implement Sentry Solutions throughout your safety program to provide your employees with a comprehensive plan for dealing with any emergency that may arise.

Sentry Insurance is committed to helping you protect your business by providing resources to manage loss-producing situations and prevent accidents. For additional information visit ForTruckersOnly.com, or call 1-877-832-1835.

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