As hurricane season begins, International SOS, the world’s leading medical and security risk services company, advises organisations and their travellers to prepare for extreme weather conditions, as the Atlantic is predicted to see similar storm patterns of previous years.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center recently released its predictions1 for this year's hurricane season, forecasting a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, a 30 percent chance of an above-normal season and a 30 percent chance of a below-normal season.
“Hurricane season begins June 1st and ends November 30, 2019. On average, we typically see about 12 named storms per hurricane season with six of those becoming hurricanes. Of these six hurricanes, we can expect three of them to be major storms,” said Dr. Robert Quigley, Senior Vice President and Regional Medical Director of International SOS and MedAire. “Although we are on track for a normal hurricane season, these extreme weather conditions bring on a lot of risks for travellers and the communities being affected.”
For 2019, NOAA forecasts a range of nine to 15 named storms that will carry winds 39 mph or higher. Of the storms, four to eight are predicted to become hurricanes with winds 74 mph or higher. Additionally, two to four of these hurricanes are expected to land between a 3-5 category hurricanes that can be just as destructive as, if not more, than last year's Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas and Hurricane Michael in Florida.
“Over the last several years we have experienced brutal hurricanes that caused a lot of devastation in multiple areas,” said Matthew Bradley, Regional Security Director of International SOS and Control Risks. “The frequency and severity of such hurricanes not only have a tragic cost to human life but businesses in affected areas have suffered too. As hurricane season approaches, it is important to implement safe practices that prepare businesses and travellers for extreme weather conditions, and education is the best way to do this.”
International SOS plays a leading role in providing natural disaster assistance and support in the event of the medical and security risks that can arise from hurricanes. Below is some best practice guidance for organisational preparedness:
- Identify and assign risk ratings to locations and facilities based on the probabilities of hurricane impact using historical geographic data.
- Provide all tools necessary that impact your personnel in the workplace, helping to support business continuity.
- Be prepared to suspend travel to and operations at at-risk locations for periods of a week or more.
- Establish appropriate thresholds for restricting travel and a clear structure in place to communicate these measures throughout the organisation, both locally and more broadly.
- Account for access disruption, to include enabling employees to have the capability and equipment to work from remotely/from home.
- Develop pre-scripted messages and test means of mass notification to ensure functionality of messaging prior to an emergency.
- Consider a table-top exercise of your organisation’s incident management or business continuity plan to assess preparedness and identify areas for improvement.
- Ensure reliable information sources are available to travellers and staff to stay apprised as storm paths and severity.
For organisations interested in protecting their workforce during hurricane season, a pre-scripted playbook and plan can be downloaded here. Country risk ratings, which take into account impacts from natural disasters, can be viewed on the award-winning Travel Risk Map.
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