Severe Weather Preparedness

wheel loaders moving sand on the beach during a hurricane while a surfer walks by

We all know how to prepare our homes and families for severe weather, but what about your vehicles and equipment? While it’s one thing to secure your home and personal property for an impending storm, other specific precautions must be taken on the job site. The following tips are designed to help you stay safe and prepared for a variety of weather events on the job site.

Thinking Ahead:
Have a plan, pre-storm. A severe weather plan should be part of your emergency response procedures. Each of your employees should know what their role is and what is expected of them in the case of a severe weather event.

If possible, monitor the latest weather reports on a storm’s path and check news coverage of areas that have already been affected. This will help you to have a better idea of what to expect.

On your equipment yard or truck site, make everything as small as possible. Retract extensions on cranes and other machinery so that each vehicle is as compact as possible. Remove personal items from cabs in case windows are broken. Secure loose materials and chemicals. Anything that could become airborne needs to be tied down or moved indoors. Any hazardous materials that could spill or contaminate local water systems during a flood situation should be moved to a secure location.

General Tips:

  • If you have a generator(s), be sure it’s in good working order and that you have ample fuel.
  • Fill all vehicles with gas.
  • Check with neighboring homes and businesses about their plans to be sure the community is safe/everyone else has things tied down so they don’t end up crashing into your site.
  • Be sure that you have a good supply of working flashlights and batteries to distribute in case of a loss of power.
  • Charge all electronics and portable chargers.
  • Keep a battery-operated radio on hand.

Case of a…
Hurricane – Move any items that could get blown around (garbage cans, aisle displays, etc.) indoors. Secure heavier items with bungee cords. Flip larger top-heavy items over to reduce surface area that could be picked up. Board up windows to protect them from flying debris. Move vehicles to the highest point of the yard or indoors if possible. Place sandbags around ground level doors to prevent water from getting in. Purchase bottled water and/or fill reusable containers for drinking.

Tornado – In the event of a tornado warning, move to the interior of whatever building you’re in, away from doors and windows, under stairs or in a bathtub if possible. Grab anything soft- blankets, mattresses, clothing, etc. to cover yourself from potential flying debris. Crouch on your knees with your head tucked down and your hands over your head. Do not shelter in a vehicle- if you’re driving, pull over and get into the nearest ditch. Do not try to outrun the storm.

Earthquake – Do not panic and run from a building. If you’re inside, crouch under a desk or other sturdy furniture to protect yourself from falling debris. Get out of and move away from vehicles as they may shift or overturn. If you can, move to an open area. Be aware of downed power lines or other debris.

Snowstorm – Attach snow tires and/or chains to your vehicles. Whenever possible, avoid driving during snowstorms. Make sure vehicles are topped up on antifreeze. Review how to deal with driving in icy conditions.

Final Thoughts:
It’s better to be safe than sorry. Just because severe weather can be rare, still take reports seriously. There is always an amount of ‘hype’ surrounding news coverage of a weather event, but it’s better to have things amount to not much than to be caught unprepared in a real emergency situation. See what other local institutions are doing. Are schools and businesses closing? What Waffle House Index level are we at? Take cues from the appropriate authorities.

Pre-plan cleanup efforts. Assess the yard and see what could be a possible issue for post-storm cleanup. Address any of these beforehand if possible. Have a general outline of the order in which cleanup tasks will be handled. Always approach post-storm situations cautiously.

Make sure employees are aware of the situation and procedures. Make sure you can contact everyone immediately in order to give instruction on closures, hazards, etc.

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