Be Prepared to Stand Alone: Planning for Weather Related Emergencies

Protus3Security Program Development

hurricaneNo one can control the weather, and weather can only be predicted accurately for a day or so into the future. With regard to specific locations, severe weather that can create extreme conditions and pose threats to life and property can only be predicted a few hours or a few minutes in advance. Within this parameter, weather emergencies may occur without any advanced warning, often leaving only seconds to take precautions or protective action.

The security organization is tasked with the physical protection of personnel and property. In these situations, it is paramount to this mission that the continuity of the security function itself be maintained. Although the management of the organization is responsible for the recovery of the business enterprise after the emergency, it is incumbent on the security operation to plan and perform in a manner that maintains the integrity of the protection function, thereby placing a security umbrella over the organization as it attempts to cope and recover.

Weather related emergencies create an operational environment in which the security department may have to stand alone for minutes, hours, or days without significant assistance from outside agencies. Although relatively localized on a broad geographic scale, a weather emergency may affect everyone and everything in a specific area. The scope of such disasters often overwhelms public safety response for hours or days, and in some cases, has actually destroyed the public safety response infrastructure completely.

The critical issues in weather related emergencies are the potential for sudden onset, the potential for extreme devastation by the forces of nature, and the potential for widespread effect. Nothing can be done to prevent weather emergencies, but there are measures that can be taken in advance to mitigate their effects and maximize the ability to respond to them during and after the fact.

Weather emergencies are those situations in which the direct or collateral effects of weather create circumstances that pose a general threat. This may include disruption of transportation, such as employee travel, shipping and receiving, or emergency response. Communications, such as telephones, mobile phones, radio communications, and/or local computer or Internet access may also be disrupted. Utility services, including electric power, gas, water, and/or sewer, are also frequently affected. Weather emergencies also create short and long term hazards to life and property, whether directly or indirectly.

Weather related emergencies have a direct effect on the security operation and security infrastructure. Security personnel may have difficulty in reporting for duty, home and family concerns, mental and physical effects, and functional hardships. There are also effects on security infrastructure, such as lack of electrical power, failure of other utilities, and difficulties with outside support.

Recognizing the devastating potential of this type of emergency and understanding the unique response and recovery environment that might confront the security organization is the first step in planning for and integrating this challenge into the general security and emergency response plan. Contingency plans can help to overcome or adapt to direct and collateral effects of a weather emergency. Plan for special transportation assistance for personnel coming to and going home from work. Plan to address home and family concerns of personnel, including a disaster support program. Plan for adapting to infrastructure problems, including the potential for long-term outages, disruption, or lack of service. Plan for isolation and self-sufficiency, and be able to stand alone for 12 to 72 hours in a major disaster with no outside support.

Effectively planning for the continuity of security operations in such weather emergencies is essential to carrying out the overall security mission. It also serves as a stable model for other units within the company to emulate. Being the well prepared “calm in the eye of the storm” serves the security function, the organization as a whole, and the entire surrounding community. Self-sufficiency in these situations minimizes the drain on heavily strained or overwhelmed public resources, and reinforces the security organizations professional reputation as well as the company’s image as a good corporate neighbor.

Plan. Protect. Prosper.

Protus3 specializes in security system design, security consulting, corporate investigations and other investigative services. Partner with Protus3 and we will examine each situation to identify threats and develop solutions for your best outcome.

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