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ASSE: The Time to Prepare for Hurricane Season is Now

Predictions for an active hurricane season in 2006 have prompted the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) to put together a safety checklist as well as other materials to help workplaces and communities prepare.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that it is predicting 13 to 16 named storms, with eight to 10 predicted to become hurricanes. Of those, four to six could become "major" hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher for the 2006 hurricane season, which runs from June to November. As a result, ASSE is offering safety preparation tips, a disaster safety checklist, mold information and resources to assist businesses of all sizes before, during and after a disaster.

"By being prepared before, during and after a catastrophe we can reduce injuries and property damage," ASSE President Jack Dobson Jr., CSP, said. "In the long run, this saves everyone in the way of rebuilding costs and possible loss of life."

Dobson added that it was disappointing to see that not enough businesses were taking the steps necessary for emergency preparedness and that changes were needed.

According to an October 2005 survey of small businesses conducted by the Ad Council, 92 percent of respondents said it was important or somewhat important for businesses to take steps to prepare for a catastrophic disaster, such as an earthquake, hurricane or terrorist attack. However, only 39 percent said their company had a plan in place in the event of such a disaster.

Tips offered by ASSE for dealing with the aftermath of a disaster include conducting a hazard evaluation and assessment performed by an occupational safety professional. This includes key areas such as structural security, cleanup safety, air quality assessment, ventilation, equipment safety, electrical safety, office furniture, sanitation issues, lighting, hazardous waste removal, power checks, computers and possible chemical leaks, surface safety and updating one's emergency plan.

Emergency tip sheets, checklists and more for businesses, homes, workers and communities are available on the ASSE Web site.

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