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Industry Insights

Tornado emergency: Steps to protect your industrial facility

June 9, 2014
Author: Joanne Pekich
Source: Metis Secure

In many areas of the US and Canada, tornados are among the deadliest threats to lives and property. Large facilities such as industrial sites are particularly vulnerable. Here's why:

  • These facilities tend to have hundreds of people on-site at any given time, including visitors and new employees who may not know emergency procedures. As the number of people you have to protect rises, the challenges involved in rapidly moving them all to safety increase exponentially. It's difficult to urgently communicate alerts and instructions to a mass of people spread throughout a large facility. And, getting everyone to their designated shelter areas within minutes can be a complex undertaking, even with advance planning and training. To accomplish this, the people responsible for safety at large industrial plants need fast, effective emergency communications tools.
  • It's common for many workers at industrial sites to wear hearing protection, goggles or masks, and other protective equipment that make it difficult to reach them with urgent instructions. In addition, some employees may have language barriers. Your emergency systems should be flexible enough to incorporate strobes and digital signs/screens for noisy areas, as well as prerecorded alerts in different languages.
  • Many industrial facilities have older siren systems primarily designed to evacuate buildings in case of fire or hazardous material spill. While these systems may include warnings for other emergencies (e.g., three short whistles for "shelter in place"), these types of coded emergency alerts can lead to confusion and delay in a crisis. In addition, systems that rely on rigid emergency codes do not give safety and emergency managers the flexibility they need to urgently communicate incident-specific directives--for this reason, systems that broadcast emergency voice instructions have become the standard.
  • Most industrial facilities have heavy equipment that workers need to safely power down in a weather emergency, and some also have hazardous materials that designated personnel need to secure. In a crisis, it's important to have a way to instantly alert special teams throughout the plant, and instruct them to initiate their assigned emergency duties.

For five steps to protect your industrial facility against extreme weather emergencies, please see the IndustryWeek article below.

Preparing for Extreme Weather and Natural Disasters

Most industrial facilities are prepared for emergencies that originate inside -- accidents, fires, electrical incidents, hazardous-materials releases. Fewer are prepared for extreme weather and natural-disaster emergencies that threaten the entire facility. While it’s impossible to prevent these incidents, preparation can mean the difference between temporary disruption and sustained disaster for your people and your operations.

Go here to read the article at IndustryWeek.