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Eye on the Hurricane Season

Julie Copeland

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Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 3 storm on AugustTen years ago, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana. 29, 2005. More than 1800 people lost their lives in the storm, and Katrina ultimately caused over $80 billion of damage. Several levees failed to contain rising waters from the storm in New Orleans, which experienced the worst of the devastation. Hurricane Katrina left much of the city under water with water approximately 12 feet high in some areas.  

Twenty years ago, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. changed the face of South Florida. Hurricane Andrew destroyed communities south of Miami, killing 15 people when it struck in 1992. After Katrina, Andrew was the second costliest storm in U.S. history. It also changed how we forecast and respond to hurricanes.  

Twenty-five years ago on September 22, Hurricane Hugo made landfall just north of Charleston, South Carolina as a Category 4 storm. It had estimated winds of 135-140 mph and produced tremendous wind and storm surge damage along the coast.  At the time, Hugo was the strongest storm to strike the U.S. in the previous 20-year period and was the nation's costliest hurricane on record in terms of monetary losses -- $7 billion in damage. It is estimated that there were 49 deaths directly related to the storm, 26 of which occurred in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  

Anyone who says they're not afraid at the time of a hurricane is either a fool or a liar, or a little bit of both.

-- Anderson Cooper

We are in hurricane season. According to the National Weather Service, hurricane season in the Atlantic begins June 1st and ends November 30th. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15th and also ends November 30th.  

The National Weather Services has shared that hurricanes are a form of tropical cyclones that are capable of causing devastating damage to communities. Hurricanes are storm systems with circulating air and sustained wind speeds of 74 miles per hour or higher. The strongest hurricanes can have wind speeds exceeding 155 miles per hour. Areas on the Atlantic Coast, near the Gulf of Mexico, as well as parts of the Southwestern United States are vulnerable to hurricanes.  

Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) has a page on their website dedicated to Hurricane Preparedness and Response. You can find it here: https://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/hurricane/index.html  

The Preparedness page outlines the warnings and watches used for hurricanes, including the five categories used to rate the strength of a hurricane. The page also contains information on creating evacuation plans and supply kits.  

The Response/Recovery page features a link to OSHA’s Hurricane eMatrix, which features information on hazard exposures and risk assessments for hurricane response and recovery work. The information in the matrix is organized based on the types of activities performed so that it is easy for workers to identify the precautions they should take based on the tasks they will be performing.  

OSHA and NOAA are working together on a public education effort aimed at improving the way people prepare for and respond to severe weather. This page is designed to help businesses and their workers prepare for hurricanes, and to provide information about hazards that workers may face during and after a hurricane.  

What Are Employer Responsibilities?

As shared by OSHA, each employer is responsible for the safety and health of its workers and for providing a safe and healthful workplace for its workers. Employers are required to protect workers from the anticipated hazards associated with the response and recovery operations that workers are likely to conduct.  

In the event of a hurricane, Arbill recommends the following steps to prepare and protect your family:

  1. Get a Kit

  2. Make a Plan

  3. Stay informed

   1.     A basic emergency supply kit should contain:

  • One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation;

  • At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food;

  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio with NOAA Weather Service;

  • Flashlight and extra batteries;

  • First aid kit

  • A whistle to signal for help;

  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting;

  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation;

  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities;

  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)

  • Local maps;

  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger.

   2.     Make a plan: 

  • Talk with members of your household and create an evacuation plan.

  • Learn about your community’s hurricane response plan.  Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for your pets to be cared for.

  • Evacuate if advised by authorities.  Be careful to avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.

  • Make sure that you have insurance coverage for floods.

  3.     Stay Informed:

  • Staying alert to weather forecasts and alerts and taking a few simple precautions can make all the difference in protecting yourself.

  • For more information on how to be Red Cross Ready, please click here.

Arbill is here to help keep your employees safe every day. For more information about personal protective equipment (PPE) or our EH&S consulting, training and support, visit our website or call an Arbill representative today at 800-523-5367.  

Have a safe day!

Topics: Arbill, hurricane preparedness, Worker safety, OSHA, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

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