None of us can control the weather, but fortunately we can do our best to prepare for it.
Inclement weather and natural disasters can pose a huge threat to the safety and operations of the manufacturing, construction and service sectors.
Among natural disasters, the risk of flooding should be top of mind. According to FEMA, about 90% of all U.S. natural disasters involve flooding, which can result from heavy rains, ocean waves coming ashore, snow melting quickly or when dams or levees break. Flooding can occur in minutes or over an extended period—and they can last for days or weeks.
Flooding is the most common and widespread weather-related natural disaster in the United States. Flooding happens in every state and territory, and the likelihood of a flood isn’t confined to a certain season or time period. Each year, floods kill more people in the U.S. than tornadoes, hurricanes or lightning, according to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association.
Hurricane Ian pummeled western Cuba Tuesday as a Category 3 storm and has grown to a Category 4 storm as it closes in on Florida. Meteorologists are tracking the hurricane’s path closely, and officials are already bracing for power outages, flooding and possibly tornadoes.
Last week, Hurricane Fiona caused devastation in the Caribbean and in eastern Canada. Despite being downgraded to a cyclone, she caused at least five deaths, washed away homes and left thousands without power.
Earlier this year, the historic flooding in Kentucky claimed the lives of at least 39 people, local media station WSAZ reported Aug. 15. People are still displaced, operations are still down and cleanup is still underway, Gov. Andy Beshear said in an address last week. The extent and estimated cost of the flooding damage is not yet known, but it will take years to rebuild the buildings, infrastructure and homes swept away or destroyed by the high water.
When flooding occurs at a business’ property or location, not only does it delay operations, but it can cost huge amounts of money to fix the damages. Experts predicted that floods will cost U.S. businesses nearly $49 billion in 2022. By 2052, they anticipate those costs to rise to more than $63 billion because of increased flooding due to climate change.
Fortunately, manufacturers and other business can take actions to help keep their facilities and workers safe in the event of a flood or other emergency. However, not all technology solutions are made equal.
When it comes to choosing what safety technology to implement, operators should look for a service that offers monitoring, alerting and reporting capabilities. This provides facilities with the necessary tools to create a holistic approach to any emergency or non-emergency situation.
Without proper monitoring, it’s impossible to determine when—or if—there is a problem in your facility. This is why it’s important to implement a solution that can integrate with a facility’s existing infrastructure.
Most facilities are already equipped with various safety systems, such as a fire panel, security cameras and door access control. With the right safety platform, all of these systems can be tied together in one place, thereby allowing them to be monitored simultaneously. A single platform can also streamline alerts regarding any triggering events these systems generate.
In the event of a flood or other natural disaster, it’s integral that a facility’s technology is able to pick up on any unwanted events, no matter the situation. With proper monitoring, facility administrators can rest assured that regardless of the time and people are in the building, they always know what is happening on-site.
It’s important that a facility’s safety platform can properly monitor all their systems, (e.g., door access control, fire panel, water sensors), but it’s also imperative that it can dispatch quick and concise communication. Facilities can set up automated alerts to be sent to preassigned individuals or groups whenever a triggering event occurs. For example, facilities can install sensors, then alert staff if those sensors detect water or changes in humidity in specific areas of a facility, which could indicate potential for flooding.
These alerts can include the location of the triggered sensors and more detailed information to help best target where action is needed. By providing staff with such alerts, they can take immediate action while also making informed decisions.
Mass notification is a great tool to contact any, and all, members of your workforce. For example, if a flood occurs and the conditions aren’t safe for employees to attend work at a specific location, an alert can be sent out to the affected employees via multiple end points, such as text message, voice call and email.
In an emergency, redundancy helps ensure all employees receive the information they need to remain safe. It also ensures that facilities reduce their response times, which can help prevent serious damage and loss of both time and money, especially when it comes to addressing a flood.
The final piece to a robust safety solution is reporting or analytics. Monitoring starts before an event occurs and alerting is necessary as the event unfolds, but reporting can be done on everything that has occurred to provide insights and prepare for future events.
This aggregate data might reveal trends that may have been missed when just looking at data points independently. For instance, a data analytics report on where the most water or humidity sensors were triggered throughout a facility can help inform operators of changes they need to make to prepare for future events. By using this information and acting proactively, facilities can prevent loss of time, equipment, property damage and potentially even lives.
A data analytics dashboard can provide facility managers with a quick and easy way to collect and view this information. An integrated technology platform can show all the data that is created through the monitoring and alerting capabilities, which can then be automatically collected and displayed to provide these important insights.
Although we can’t prevent floods or other natural disasters, we can do our best to prepare for them. With a comprehensive solution, facilities can respond safely and effectively to any situation that comes their way—no matter the weather.
Danielle Myers is a general manager at Status Solutions, where she is responsible for day-to-day operations with an emphasis on sales programs. She has been with the company since 2008 and has served in account management and sales roles. Danielle’s expertise includes working with customers in senior living, health care, education, manufacturing, hospitality and government to design, deliver and maintain solutions for integrated alarm management and automated mass notification. She also has been instrumental in expanding the company’s U.S. channel with the addition of new voice, data, fire, security, audio-visual and managed services providers as certified resellers.