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Every year, from June until right around November, hurricane-force winds are prominent in the South Eastern US. Many of these hurricanes can reach speeds in excess of 150mph. This is the dreaded hurricane season. It is this time of year that sees economic disruptions, billions in property damage, and even fatalities. And while there is nothing that can be done to avoid hurricanes, a little hurricane preparation goes a long way!
Warehouses, carrier services, and distribution centers are all also affected by the hurricane season. In fact, we figured it was a good time to put together a list of the best proactive measures distribution centers (or really anyone) can take to ensure they ride out the storm safely.
In this blog post, we will take a look at the top 7 must-have supplies that distribution centers should have on hand. These supplies help ensure the safety and protection of all employees and visitors.
When a hurricane arrives, the excessive winds and flooding can contaminate the local drinking water supply and sewage system. This will render all potable water unusable for human consumption. Since temperatures and humidity levels elevate during a hurricane, plenty of bottled water is critical. The general rule of thumb is that you should have about 1 gallon per person per day. Furthermore, this supply should be able to last a minimum of 2 weeks. Water is a vital part of any tropical storm or hurricane preparation procedure.
During Hurricane Katrina, Sandy, and recently Michael, the leading commodity sold at grocery stores within a week of a forecasted hurricane was drinking water. So, don’t delay, maintain an ample supply of drinking water in your inventory during the hurricane season.
When it comes time to hunker down, knowing you already have plenty of water takes some of the stress out of the situation.
In addition to drinking water, a distribution center should also keep at least 3 to 7 days-worth of dry-goods food.
It’s best to have non-perishable packaged or canned food that can be prepared whether indoors or outdoors. It’s also a good idea to have a few propane stoves that can be used to cook food.
One of the first items that will go out during a hurricane or tropical storm is electricity. For distribution centers with cold-storage facilities, this can lead to significant problems.
The potential of cooling systems running hot can lead to thousands or millions in damaged product. To avoid this potential issue, establishing a solar-powered or robust generator system that can power your facility for at least two weeks without electricity is crucial.
In the event of flooding, maintaining vital records is exceptionally important. Waterproof containers are perfect for this!
While it’s less likely for flooding to occur in upstairs offices, those with single-story facilities should create a plan for keeping vital records, computer files, and other important documents safe and secure.
In regards to securing physical documents, storing all physical documents in a cloud-based system helps you avoid losing it all.
Another potential issue with hurricanes is physical injuries.
Whether it is due to blown-out glass or falling objects inside the warehouse, the potential for injuries increases triple-fold during a hurricane. While you should always keep an ample and fully stocked first aid kit throughout the year, this becomes even more critical during the hurricane season.
In the event that employees or vendors are stuck at the distribution center to wait out a hurricane, it’s important to have plenty of sanitation and personal hygiene items for everyone. After all, you never truly know how long you will be trapped there.
A good idea is to invest in some anti-microbial hand cleaning wipes as they are beneficial for removing dirt, debris, and oils. These things are lifesavers when there is no water for cleaning available.
Another important set of hurricane preparation items; battery-operated devices.
This would include radios, clocks, and other communication devices. A radio on-hand and set to local emergency stations for updates proves very useful. Better yet, keep an NOAA weather radio at the facility for such events. As a proactive measure, make sure to replace the batteries every June, even if the radios haven't been touched.
For the most part, advanced warning systems do a good job of alerting people to a storm. However, many distribution center employees may still find themselves stuck inside a warehouse for the duration of the storm. By being proactive about your safety and hurricane preparation steps, you can keep those inside the facility safe and secure, reduce the potential of spoilage, and rebound quickly after these devastating storms pass.