Tips for Safely Weathering Spring Storms

February 20, 2020

Risk Management News

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There is an old children’s song that goes, "Spring has sprung and brought me such a nice surprise." This is especially true in Texas with our famous bluebonnets and other wildflowers. However, spring also brings some not so nice surprises, such as severe storms with damaging wind and hail, heavy rains and flooding and in some cases, tornados.

Here are some simple safety tips to help you protect and limit damage to your county's valuable resources and assets.

Protect employees, your most valuable asset

  • Have a safety plan in place that stipulates what part of a building employees should go to in case of a tornado or other severe weather. Plans typically include direction to move away from windows and into a central room or basement or storm shelter if available. Also, provide safety tips for avoiding hail or lightning when employees get stuck outside in open areas. Tips can include staying in a vehicle and seeking an overpass or covered parking if driving conditions permit.
  • Be sure employees have the correct safety equipment and soft sole footwear for inspecting vehicles, equipment and buildings. This includes providing appropriate ladder safety training for accessing roofs, and making employees aware of potential slip, trip and fall hazards created by wet spring conditions, including mildew buildup on walkways or other surfaces.
  • Spring brings back many stinging insects like honey bees and wasps. Encourage employees to be aware of their surroundings and watch for new hives or nests.  It is also important to be aware of any allergies you or other employees might have to these insects and their bites or stings. Venomous snakes are also more active in the spring. Be sure to watch your step, use appropriate equipment and wear appropriate footwear when mowing or walking in areas with high grass or lots of debris.

Inspect buildings to limit or prevent damages

  • Inspect buildings, roofs and drainage prior to those heavy spring rainstorms. This will help to avoid roof or window leaks. Make sure gutters and drains are clear of debris like leaves and trash. Make sure roof-mounted equipment is secure so it doesn't blow around during heavy winds and puncture or damage the roof. Check that hail guards or covers are in place or available to protect the HVAC equipment and check roof and window conditions at seams and equipment penetrations for any needed maintenance.
  • Check landscaping around buildings to make sure adequate slope and drainage are available. This will help prevent buildings from flooding.
  • Inspect grounding system and lightning rods to ensure proper ground connection. Whole building or individual surge protection devices are recommended for sensitive, essential buildings or business personal property equipment.

Drive safely despite spring hazards

  • With the potential for driving in wet and rainy conditions, be sure to check your windshield wipers, lights and tires. These can easily get damaged by winter ice and snow. Tires should be checked to ensure they have adequate tread for safely driving in wet and slippery road conditions. 
  • Be sure employees know not to cross flooded streets or low water crossings and to slow down during rainstorms to avoid hydroplaning. 
  • With spring and warmer weather comes an increase in animal activity and an uptick in joggers or bicyclists. Always be aware of your surroundings while driving.
  • Hail can cause significant damage to vehicles. Even small hailstorms can break vehicle windshields. Monitor local weather reports to get advance warning of hailstorms. Be sure to park your vehicles under covered parking or even in a barn or event center that has large overhead or bay doors during the threat of a hailstorm.

If you need more information on how to prepare to protect your assets from severe spring storms, please see our online resources. Members of the TAC Risk Management Pool can also reach out to their Risk Control Consultant for more information.