— by Ed Wolff, MS, CEM, MEP —

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful…” It may be a holiday song lyric that a lot of people are singing these days, but it’s also a fact. Many areas of the U.S. seem to have skipped right over the fall season and jumped directly into winter. As of this post, a major winter storm is trekking across the country, and will bring ice, snow and freezing rain from the Southern Plains to the Southeast. Even Nashville, Tennessee (the home of BOLDplanning) could see some of the white stuff.

Depending on your location, it may take only a little or a lot of ice, sleet or snow to bring things to a screeching halt. Take Birmingham, Alabama, for example, where record-setting snowfall in December 2017 caused many area businesses, along with the state’s entire public school system, to shut down for a day. Or, Atlanta, Georgia, which was completely paralyzed by just a few inches of snow in January 2014. Next, consider areas of the Northeast, where a blizzard dropped nearly four feet of snow March 2017. In all instances, people and organizations found themselves contending with extreme winter weather hazards.

  • Frozen precipitation can cause roadways to quickly become impassable, leaving folks stranded at home, at school, in the office, or even in the car.
  • Ice, sleet and snow can make sidewalks and parking lots treacherous, increasing the risk of falls, as well as your organization’s injury liability.
  • Heavy ice and snow can cause power lines to fall, leaving areas powerless for hours, or even days.

So, how do you prepare your organization and yourself for the possibility of such winter weather conditions? Start by creating (or purchasing) emergency kits for your home, school, office and car. Such kits, at a minimum, should include water, food, a flashlight, extra batteries, blankets, a first aid kit, and a cell phone charger. For a complete list of possible items, and some helpful winter weather tips, visit Ready.gov.

Remember, living a “culture of preparedness” means to ensure that we are part of the solution and not part of the problem when an emergency or disaster strikes. That doesn’t mean we have to plan for Armageddon; we just need to be prepared for the hazards and risks that are associated with where we live and work. For a lot of us, this includes Old Man Winter, which officially starts on December 21st.

Ed Wolff, MS, CEP, MEP
Ed Wolff, MS, CEM, MEP
Vice President, Special Projects

Ed Wolff is Vice President, Special Projects for BOLDplanning, a leading provider of preparedness consulting services and online planning software.

Over the past 36 years in emergency management roles, Ed has worked many real-world boots on the ground incidents, including an earthquake and tsunami in Papua New Guinea, mud slides in South America, the World Trade Center in 2001, the Space Shuttle Columbia crash, Hurricane Katrina, and other hurricanes, tornadoes, mud slides, and flooding across five continents.