Emergencies can strike at any time. To limit the potential damage and ensure your staff and patients are safe, you need to be prepared.
Hurricanes pose a particularly dangerous threat to healthcare facilities, and the Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1. On average, the season sees 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. The 2023 season is expected to fall below average, but 13 named storms, six hurricanes, and two major hurricanes are still forecasted.
How CNECT Can Assist You with Emergency Preparedness and Management
In 2022, CNECT members gained access to a new set of contracts under the “Disaster Preparedness” category. Through these contracts, our members can secure support services that enable them to prepare for and recover from emergencies such as hurricanes. These services include:
- Catastrophic Event Restoration
- Emergency Response Planning and Training
- Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration
- General Contracting and Reconstruction
- Infection Prevention and Decontamination
- Temporary Power
- Water and Flood Damage Restoration
Five Steps to Prepare for a Hurricane
Don’t wait until an emergency strikes — take action on these five steps and make sure you and your facility are ready.
#1 — Develop an Emergency Preparedness Plan
The first step to hurricane emergency preparedness is developing protocols and finalizing a comprehensive plan. Your emergency preparedness plan should document processes for the four phases of emergency management:
- Mitigation: How can you reduce the impact of the hurricane?
- Identify and evaluate potential hazards that may arise during the hurricane and document how to mitigate them. For example, if your water source could be jeopardized by a hurricane, plan how to ensure the continuity of clean water at your facility.
- Preparedness: How can you best prepare for the hurricane?
- Develop comprehensive plans of how to manage and counter risks and how to take action to build the capabilities your facility needs to implement the plans. Preparedness requires continuous effort, so plans may include scheduling annual inspections or regular maintenance checks. You can find a comprehensive guide to preparation here.
- Response: How will you react when the hurricane arrives?
- Establish procedures and processes that ensure you have a clear plan of action that can be executed calmly when the hurricane arrives. This should include guidance on communication, evacuation, and sheltering.
- Recovery: How will you recover and return to normal after the hurricane?
- Map out the road ahead after the hurricane has passed. Document how you will restore the affected area to its previous state, including the companies and contractors you will turn to for support.
#2 — Gather Emergency Supplies
It’s imperative that you have the supplies necessary to maintain normal operation during and after a hurricane for at least 72 hours. Make sure you have a healthy stock of:
- Non-perishables, such as canned and dried food.
- One gallon of water per person per day.
- Prescription drugs, pain relievers, allergy medication, sedatives, antivirals, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics.
- Medical Equipment
- Personal protective equipment (PPE), wound care products, operating room supplies, water filters, hygiene products.
- Sources of Energy
- Fuel and batteries.
- Transportation Aids
- Crutches, wheelchairs, portable hospital beds.
These emergency supplies should be stored in a secure but accessible location, and you should have a plan in place for restocking them as needed.
#3 — Secure the Building
You should take steps to ensure that your building is secured against the impact of hurricane-force winds and rain. Reinforcing windows and doors is an essential part of securing your facility, while clearing gutters and drains in advance will reduce the chance of leaks and water damage occurring during heavy downpours.
You must also consider the immediate area surrounding your facility. Be sure to secure any outdoor equipment and furniture to prevent avoidable damage caused by displaced debris.
#4 — Ensure Staff Are Trained
All staff at your facility must be trained in your emergency procedures, including evacuation and sheltering protocols to ensure they’re capable of assisting patients if those measures are necessary. They also need to be familiar with your emergency preparedness plan and should participate in regular drills, so they are prepared to respond in the event of a hurricane hitting.
Training should be a key part of your annual plan and not a last-minute consideration. However, when the potential for an emergency arises, use the time available to reinforce key procedures and make sure your staff are confident and fully prepared.
#5 — Coordinate with Local Authorities
When a hurricane is forecast, contact local authorities, including emergency management agencies, to make them aware of your operations and capabilities and to discuss any support they can provide if needed.
At this time, you should also make sure you’re aware of any evacuation routes and transportation options available to patients and staff in the event that leaving the area is necessary.
Prepare Your Facility for Hurricane Season
Emergency situations can occur at any organization. Even if you aren’t in an area vulnerable to hurricanes, you may experience another natural disaster. Don’t take the risk; put the safety of your staff and patients first by being prepared.
More hurricane preparedness information and resources recommended by OSHA can be found here. But if you’d like assistance with strengthening your disaster preparedness plan, stocking up your emergency supplies, or gaining peace of mind by having access to support services in the event of an emergency, contact the CNECT team today!