Emergency Preparedness in your Warehouse: Weather

June kicks of National Safety Month, which focuses on “reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities” (according to National Safety Council). Every week, NSC highlights a different safety topic, and the first one is emergency preparedness.

This is an excellent time to review and/or create emergency plans for your warehouse. There are numerous excellent resources that can help you with this, and we’ve compiled some for you. This topic is big enough that we’re dedicating two articles to it. Since severe weather is already an issue in most of the country, we’ll start with this.

If you already have a designated shelter area, compare it against the suggestions below, and check that you’ve taken all the necessary steps to ensure people make it into the shelter before danger arrives. If you’ve yet to identify severe weather protocol, the following will help you get started.

WARNING SYSTEM

People can only be protected by shelters if they have enough time to get there. Therefore, it’s important to use warning systems in addition to the local sirens that alert you to severe weather. Emergency Alert System radios are available for purchase at many electronic stores. Otherwise, you should be monitoring news sources when weather is ominous. You can subscribe to free text and email warnings through multiple online news and weather resources.

WHAT MAKES A SHELTER SAFE?

Common sense tells us that the strongest part of the building, and a room underground is the best place to seek shelter from a tornado. However, not everyone has access to unground space, or they are unsure which parts of the buildings are strongest. This can be especially true in a warehouse.

The Georgia Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency has put together a thorough document on tornado protection. Here are highlights that address selecting a shelter area:

DO:

  • Use qualified structural engineers or architects to inspect your building or construction drawings to identify the strongest areas of the warehouse.
  • Assess the site for large objects that can fall or get blown over in winds, like trees, towers, and poles. Additionally, survey the inside for anything that can be airborne. You want to choose an area that is free of objects that can injure people if thrown about.
  • Look for large, secured interior partitions that do not have windows.
  • Find short spans on the roof or floor structure as they’re more likely to remain intact.

DON’T:

  • Gather under long-span roofs, like those fond on high ceilings and over large rooms. They can be destroyed much more easily.
  • Seek shelter beneath lightweight roofs or heavy roofs (like precast concrete planks) – these heavy structures can be lifted, moved slightly, and then smash to the floor below.
  • Go near any windows. Windows shatter easily in strong winds, and small shards can do a lot of damage, especially when shot through the air with strong winds
  • Use unprotected corridors as they create wind tunnels

Some other great resources for tornado preparedness include OSHA and the EPA.

At Packnet, we care about the safety of your employees as well as your goods. We encourage you to routinely review your safety plans and the integrity of the supplies and structures you rely upon in an emergency.

Your priority is the safety of you and your employees. When it’s time to think about protecting your packages, too, give us a call. 952.944.9124