Ready or not, the snow and ice season is here, and here early. Winter doesn’t officially begin until December 21st, but portions of the U.S., have already seen plenty of the white stuff (not to mention colder-than-average temperatures). And, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there’s plenty more to come in the months ahead—winter doesn’t end until March 20th. That said, is your organization prepared for Old Man Winter and the many potential problems that he brings with him?
For example, snow and ice can make roads treacherous or even impassible, keeping employees, including doctors and nurses, from work or actually trapping them there. The same holds true for students and teachers. Consider the 8,000+ forced to stay overnight in schools after a freak snowstorm in Atlanta, Georgia, in January 2014, as well as those in Seneca, New York, where 26 inches of snow quickly fell in January 2017.
Besides snow and ice, freezing rain can lead to dangerous ice storms, taking down trees and causing widespread power outages. And, depending upon the weather conditions, these outages can last anywhere from several hours to several days. Making matters worse, extremely cold temperatures can lead to bodily injury, including frostbite and hypothermia, or worse, death.
Other common problems associated with winter weather include:
- Frozen pipes and/or water sprinklers, resulting in water damage
- Roof damage or worse, roof collapse, due to heavy ice, snow, and high winds
- Power failures and plummeting temperatures, causing significant damage to equipment (especially computers)
- Physical injury to employees, visitors, and others, possibly leading to litigation
- Transportation issues, leaving people stranded in cars, airports, train stations, etc.
- Office closures or altered hours, causing loss of revenue
Any of these problems has the potential to disrupt your organization’s operations and to do so indefinitely. You may even need to shift operations to other locations, or alternate facilities, until conditions improve or repairs can be made. In these instances, the contents of your Continuity of Operations (COOP) plan can prove invaluable.
Now that Old Man Winter has made an early arrival, consider reviewing (and perhaps updating) your COOP plan. Or, better yet, conduct a tabletop exercise, if only remotely given the COVID-19 pandemic. Such actions may save your organization a lot of time and trouble during a severe winter weather event, anticipated or otherwise.
BOLDplanning provides comprehensive planning services coupled with superior online software. Currently, BOLDplanning is the solution of choice for more than 10,000 continuity, emergency, and hazard mitigation plans across the country.