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Disaster Preparedness

How to Prepare Your Business for a Blizzard

If you service an area that’s prone to blizzards, it’s wise to follow these steps to ensure that your business is ready to respond safely and effectively — before, during and after the storm.  

Plan out how your company will respond to the storm.

Ahead of severe weather like a blizzard, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends you create a disaster plan for your company. 

  • Assemble a planning team. This might include anyone from upper management to labor, security or sales.
  • Conduct a vulnerability analysis to find out how prepared you are to respond to a severe weather event. 
  • Make sure your employees are aware of your building’s emergency management policy, including members of key onsite personnel. 
  • Have a plan for getting in touch with first responders in case you need them to come to your business.  

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also offers step-by-step guidance for creating a disaster response plan.  

Make sure employees have the right personal protective equipment (PPE).

If you and your employees plan to work during or in response to a blizzard, follow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) recommendations for cold-weather PPE:

  • Wear at least three layers of loose-fitting clothing. 
    • The inner layer should be thermal wear, wool, silk or polypropylene rather than cotton.
    • The middle layer should be synthetic or wool, which insulates even when it’s wet. 
    • The outer layer should be a wind or rain protection layer, which helps prevent overheating and allows some level of ventilation. Consider an insulated coat or jacket that’s water-resistant. 
  • If you need to, wear a knit mask that covers your face and mouth. 
  • Wear a hat that also covers your ears. 
  • Protect hands and feet with insulated, water-resistant gloves and boots. 
  • Keep extra clothing on-hand in case clothing gets wet or damaged. 

Understand the hazards you may encounter while at work.  

Educate yourself and your team on the dangers associated with blizzard response work, including: 

  • Being hit by falling objects. This could include icicles, tree limbs and utility poles. 
  • Traffic accidents. Slippery or icy roadways can cause driving accidents.  
  • Hypothermia, frostbite and dehydration. If possible, schedule your employees to work during the warmest part of the day, and when you can, limit how long they’re exposed to extremely cold temperatures. Try to provide a warm area for your employees to use during breaks. 

See the full list of hazards present during winter storms via OSHA.

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