The 2022 Atlantic hurricane season – running June 1 through November 30 – is off to a surprisingly quiet start. For the first time in seven years, not a single hurricane has formed in the Atlantic Basin as of mid-August.
So far, 2022 has produced only three named storms – the last being Tropical Storm Colin, which was downgraded to a depression and dissipated over North Carolina at the beginning of July.
This season presents a stark contrast to 2021 – which had already recorded seven named storms by August 13 – and 2020 – the busiest hurricane season on record.
But don’t get comfortable just yet. Although forecasters have downgraded their outlooks, they’re still predicting an “above-normal” hurricane season.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) latest projections call for 14-20 named storms, including 3-5 major hurricanes.
“Although it has been a relatively slow start to hurricane season, with no major storms developing in the Atlantic, this is not unusual and we therefore cannot afford to let our guard down,” said Deanne Criswell, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator. “This is especially important as we enter peak hurricane season. The next Ida or Sandy could still be lying in wait.”
Facilities managers working in hurricane-prone areas should understand their vulnerability to wind and flooding. Even those who operate inland are susceptible to high winds, power outages, and flooding from torrential rain.
By taking action today, you can save lives and property in the event of a hurricane later this season. Download Flagship’s Hurricane Season Preparation Checklist to assist in the planning process.
Once you’ve completed the checklist, be sure to coordinate with management to educate employees on safety policies and procedures.
Here are some tips for increasing preparedness, originally published in FEMA’s “Prepare Your Organization for a Hurricane Playbook”.
Test Your Emergency Communications Plans
Consider testing your employee notification plan with employees and volunteers to ensure you will be able to communicate with them effectively in case of an emergency – both during and outside of business hours. This could be as simple as sending an email, a text alert, or testing a public address system to ensure leadership can provide critical emergency guidance when needed. Be sure to identify these communications by starting with “THIS IS A TEST” to avoid any confusion.
Practice Taking Shelter
While you may need to evacuate the area due to a hurricane, there are also situations when you may need to seek protection from hurricane-force winds. Identify your protective location and practice getting all employees to that location quickly. If you do not have access to a FEMA safe room or an International Code Council (ICC) 500 storm shelter, use a small, interior, windowless room, such as a bathroom or closet, on the lowest level not likely to flood.
Hold a Preparedness Discussion
One of the most effective ways to share information and motivate people to take steps for personal preparedness is to talk to your people. Add a preparedness discussion to the agenda of your next staff or organizational meeting or arrange a brown bag lunch session. Many individuals within an organization – including managers, employees, and volunteers – can lead a preparedness discussion. You can cover the basics in 15 minutes; 30 minutes provides time for more discussion.
Facilities professionals have an important role to play when it comes to disaster preparation! After all, employees are 75 percent more likely to act during emergencies when their employers encourage preparedness at work.
Not to mention, proper planning can help you keep your doors open following a disaster. The ability to maintain or re-establish operations quickly requires a focus on readiness, organization, and partnership.
The climate crisis has created new challenges and put added pressure on facilities to evolve quickly.
At Flagship Facility Services, not only are we trained and ready to weather-proof your facility, but we go the extra mile to ensure workplace safety.
For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes.