The Ready Step

Annual reviews are a staple of year-end activities. They provide a natural time to examine procedures, identify successes and determine ways to improve. As you evaluate your weather emergency plans, it is useful to consider how weather warnings are made and then mirror your plans to match those threat escalations. This is defined as a “Ready, Set, Go” safety process, described in a three-part series. In this first part, we’ll explore the hardest part – the Ready Step.

Here, threats are assessed in a general way. The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center is ever-vigilant, tracking the potential for dangerous weather outbreaks days in advance. They rate the potential for severe weather using a graded scale from General to High. For your operation, the corollary action is to lay out your plans for an emergency planning. It’s the heavy-lifting phase as you are primarily getting “Ready”.

This planning step involves taking the “big picture” view of dependencies and contingencies that make up your emergency plan. Here, ensure roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and procedures regarding evacuation, shut downs, etc. are documented digitally as well as virtually. In this step, perform drills and work out ways to fine-tune your plan.

One factor to consider is the need to shelter-in-place during an extreme weather event versus relocating to an alternate site. Depending on the scope of the operation, there may be ways to have some aspects performed from a different physical location. In the case some staff need to remain, ensure adequate provisions are on-hand and are being checked regularly. Otherwise there’s the risk that stockpiled supplies may expire. Establish alternate means of communicating both internally with staff and externally with customers, suppliers and vendors. Some organizations are using private social media groups to communicate schedule changes and other information to staff during an emergency such as an evacuation.

Another factor that should be keyed into this planning step is the need to identify alternate suppliers. It may be that your facility isn’t impacted by a storm, but your supplier may no longer be able to function. Determine key gaps in your organization and find back-up vendors for critical operations. This can help reduce production delays. Developing your plan requires looking carefully across your organization, assessing vulnerabilities and caucusing with all stakeholders to ensure that you can endure a threat and continue. It is a delicate balance ensuring business continuity while reducing risk. However, it should be an essential part of your organization’s plan. While no one likes to think about the worst, you must prepare for it and put your business in the best possible position to survive.

In the next installment, we’ll explore the “Set” Step.
Gene Norman is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist who has helped businesses enhance their safety process as well as provided weather education to community and civic organizations. Learn more about how WeatherCall Enterprise helps businesses with their continuity plans here.