Across the United States, floods account for major property damage and lost lives each year. Texas in particular leads the nation in flood risk and fatalities each year. By having a proper emergency plan in place, your school can mitigate the risk of flood damage.
5 Keys to Flood Emergency Preparedness
Flash floods can occur when we least expect it. Develop a proper flood preparation plan by following the following five steps:
- Planning Ahead
- Training Teachers How to Respond
- Setting Up a Communication System
- Protecting School Property
- Arranging Safe Transportation
1) Planning Ahead
It is important to develop a plan well in advance of an actual flooding emergency. This will help minimize the chaos that may occur in case of a flood. As your plan evolves, keep everyone at the school updated at all times. The administration and students must know what to do and where to go in case of an emergency.
2) Training Teachers on How to Respond
Making sure your teachers know how to respond in the case of a flash flood emergency is extremely important. This is even more critical for large campuses with a significant number of students. Hold regular reviews of flood safety protocols to ensure your teachers are up-to-date on what to do in case of an emergency.
3) Setting Up a Communication System
Set up a solid communication plan to disseminate information out to the school population. Whatever method you choose, ensure that it delivers the message quickly. Plenty of effective communication tools exist to make the process easier–for instance, many schools use automated texts and calls or special apps to alert students and staff. Find a way to keep everyone updated in real-time.
4) Protecting School Property
Schools typically have expensive equipment and property that isn’t easy to repair. Consider purchasing an inflatable flood barrier that can easily be placed around campus during flood seasons. Additionally, consider placing expensive equipment, such as computers and lab equipment, in higher levels of the building. Floods will rarely rise beyond the first floor of the building, allowing anything on the second floor to escape relatively unscathed.
Pro Tip: If your school is in a high-risk flash flood area, consider purchasing flood insurance that covers damage to your property and equipment.
5) Arranging Safe Transportation
During flash flood season, arrange safe transportation for your staff and students so that they can get home quickly and safely. For example, if the risk of flash floods is high, consider implementing extra buses that can take students and staff home. Make sure any vehicles you use are sturdy and can withstand heavy rain.
In rare cases, evacuation may not be possible. This is when your preparations ahead of time become potential lifesavers. Get students to higher levels of the school building and stay away from the floodwaters until help arrives.
Safety Planning for the 2020-2021 School Year
When it comes to natural disasters, flash floods can inflict serious damage on property and equipment. By implementing strict safety protocols, you can mitigate the damage of property and ensure your staff and students are safe from any harm. Follow the guidelines above and develop a flood preparation plan to protect your students, administration, and property from damage in case of flooding.
Get in touch with us for more information about your school’s potential flood risk and how to prepare.
Hurricanes are an unfortunate reality for many coastal states. However, the term “hurricane” on its own isn’t sufficient to describe the storm. Hurricanes can range from particularly severe thunderstorms to truly devastating disasters. To give people an accurate idea of the potential damage that can result, weather organizations such as NOAA use a system of five categories to differentiate hurricanes.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, also known as the scale of hurricane categories, uses wind speeds to determine the potential severity and damage of a developing hurricane. This provides an at-a-glance perspective for people hurrying to evacuate and for meteorologists trying to estimate the danger. But this scale isn’t a perfect predictor of damage. Hurricanes bring heavy rain, storm surges, and lightning as well as high winds. Don’t assume that a lower-category hurricane will implicitly do less damage–other factors at play could have the opposite effect.
1) Category 1
A category 1 hurricane is defined as a rotating storm with wind speeds between 74-96 miles per hour. Homes and businesses will suffer minor damage from wind and possible flooding, though reinforced glass windows are generally safe. The biggest risk of a category 1 hurricane is its ability to knock out the local power supply. Keep a generator handy or be ready to wait several days for the electricity to come back on.
Pro Tip: Some people choose not to evacuate from a category 1 hurricane. While you will likely be safe from a category 1 hurricane in a sturdy house with plenty of emergency supplies, anything worse than that warrants immediate evacuation.
2) Category 2
Category 2 hurricanes have wind speeds between 96-110 miles per hour. Hurricanes of this strength will definitely deal some damage to homes and businesses on a larger scale than a category 1. Low-lying areas will likely flood, and power outages can last for days or weeks depending on the extent of the damage.
3) Category 3
This is where things start to get really serious. A category 3 hurricane, considered a major hurricane, has wind speeds between 111-130 miles per hour. This type of hurricane can destroy small, weak buildings and can damage even sturdier structures. Victims may be without electricity or running water for weeks, and debris will likely block or damage roads.
4) Category 4
With wind speeds between 131-150 miles per hour, category 4 hurricanes are true catastrophes. Trees will be snapped in half. Homes can lose their roofs or exterior walls. Heavy flooding can render entire regions uninhabitable for weeks or months, placing local residents in serious danger. You will definitely experience total power loss and likely lose your access to running water for several weeks.
5) Category 5
A category 5 hurricane, the highest of the rankings, is also the most dangerous. With wind speeds over 155 miles per hour, category 5 hurricanes are capable of completely destroying your business, office building, or home. Severe inland flooding and the total destruction of local communities will render large areas uninhabitable for months.
Watch the Weather
Nobody likes to think about a devastating hurricane knocking out power and making neighborhoods uninhabitable for weeks. Unfortunately, summer and autumn in a coastal Texas region are prime time for hurricanes. Keep an eye on the weather and take note of the predicted hurricane categories. While it’s not a perfect indicator, it will give you an idea of what to expect.
Connect with us to learn more about dealing with a hurricane and its aftermath.
We’ve all received weather alerts before, whether via text message, radio broadcast, or TV spot. While most of these alerts present straightforward information, sometimes certain types of alerts can seem redundant. This is particularly obvious when you realize we receive different alerts for flash floods and floods in general. Why is this distinction necessary?
Flash floods are a different category of flood all their own. Either type can cause significant damage, but a flash flood forms and moves much faster than a typical flood. This makes flash floods especially dangerous. Understanding the difference between flash floods vs floods will give you an idea of how much danger you’re in the next time you get a flood alert.
Characteristics of Common Flooding
The National Weather Service’s definition of a flood is short, sweet, and to the point: “ an overflow of water onto normally dry land.” While this definition is technically broad enough to encompass both flash floods and slower flooding, the term “flood” refers to a generally slow process. Water levels creep up over hours or even days as rain overflows nearby bodies of water or combines with other factors to create a perfect storm. The major 2019 flood in the midwestern United States illustrates a rather complex set of conditions for flooding. Increased rainfall from the previous year caused the ground to freeze solid when winter came, and as the snow began to melt later on, the water had nowhere to drain and spread out, causing widespread flooding.
Characteristics of Flash Floods
Unlike floods that require a gradual buildup of the right conditions, flash floods can occur seemingly out of the blue. The National Weather Service defines a flash flood as a sudden influx of water into a dry area, often within a time period of 6 hours or less. Culprits can range from heavy rain to a collapsing dam nearby.
As Popular Mechanics succinctly puts it, the difference between a flash flood and a typical flood is “the difference between simmering and rapid destruction.” Floods bring a gradual increase in water level and can cause widespread damage over a long period of time. On the other hand, flash floods occur in mere hours or minutes and rip through river beds or streets, lasting much less time but causing as much or even more destruction.
Pro Tip: A flash flood warning signifies a higher level of danger than a more common flood warning. Get to high ground fast!
Staying Safe During Hurricane Season
As 2020’s hurricane season continues, it never hurts to brush up on your preparations for severe weather. That definitely includes understanding the differences between a flood and a much more immediately dangerous flash flood. But at the end of the day, remember that floodwaters of any kind are never safe. Stay out of the water and get to high ground immediately!
Connect with us for more information on safely weathering this hurricane season.
In the midst of a heavy storm or aftermath of a hurricane, flooding presents a number of dangers to consider. One major problem is the adverse effects of pollution on floodwater. From infectious diseases to toxic fumes, your health is put at risk. With the many dangers of flood water, it’s important for you to think twice before wading through any flooded areas.
How is Flooding Unsafe?
Floodwater picks up an impressive collection of everything it touches as it spreads. Trash, oil, insects, snakes, biological waste, and more are just a handful of the hidden hazards just below the surface. Here are a few other ways floodwater can put you in danger:
- Infection of open wounds
- Toxic spread of chemicals
- Increase of ants and poisonous insects
- Force of rushing water
1) Infection of Open Wounds
Floods often carry waste from sewers or farms, filling the water with all sorts of nasty bacteria. Even floodwaters that haven’t picked up biohazards can contain potentially dangerous bacteria, especially legionella, which can give you a potentially deadly strain of pneumonia. Any of these bacteria-ridden hazards could infect an open wound, even a tiny cut, if you walk into floodwaters. Don’t take that risk.
2) Toxic Spread of Chemicals
Plenty of vehicles leak oil or other engine fluids on a regular basis. Floodwaters pick up that residue and spread it everywhere. A damaged gas station leaking fuel only contributes to this contamination. You never know what chemicals standing water picked up on its way to settle near you–play it safe and don’t let yourself get contaminated.
Pro Tip: Flooding brings dangerous aquatic creatures–especially snakes–uncomfortably close to you. Avoid entering standing water to keep yourself safe.
3) Increase of Ants and Poisonous Insects
You’re probably familiar with the fascinating but terrifying way fire ants survive floods: they group up into a floating mass of ants that drifts on the floodwaters for days or weeks until they reach something they can climb onto. It goes without saying that these islands of ants are extremely dangerous if they come in contact with humans. From a distance, these “rafts” can look like debris, making it difficult to know how much danger you’re in. The best strategy is to avoid the water altogether and stay away from debris. However, if you do find yourself covered in fire ants after accidentally touching a mound, brush them off as quickly as you can. Don’t jump in the water to wash them off–they can survive for a long time without drowning.
A less terrifying but also dangerous hazard is the increased presence of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes breed in water, and as floodwaters spread, their breeding grounds become massive and allow many more than normal to appear. Widespread floods could expose you to mosquitoes that carry dangerous diseases, and treatment can be hard to find following a severe storm. Keep insect spray close by and try to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to give the mosquitoes fewer places to bite.
4) Force of Rushing Water
According to NOAA, a mere six inches of rushing water can knock an adult down and 1-2 feet of water can stall and sweep away most cars. Don’t let the site of shallow water lull you into a false sense of security. Currents are deadly. Keep children out of the water and never walk in floodwaters yourself, even if they look shallow enough to be safe.
Limit Your Exposure to Floodwater
When we’re faced with flash floods or major storms, it can be difficult to stay healthy during the cleanup process. Don’t forget to wash your hands with antibacterial soap or wear protective clothing to ensure your safety. Additionally, make sure you have a reliable way to protect against flooding so that you can minimize your risk of illness or injury.
Connect with our flood protection experts for the best solution to keep hazardous water away from your property.
Dewatering your construction site is faster and easier than expected when using the Aqua-Barrier water-filled cofferdams. Aqua-Barriers use less equipment and manpower to install than conventional cofferdam methods, saving you time and money on your next probject!
As a construction professional, you already recognize the importance of dewatering a construction site for your own safety as well as for your workers’ safety. But dewatering is a complex process. Do you know what to do before you even get started and how to handle potential dangers during the process? Let’s look at these important points for your next project.
Know the Local Regulations
Some regions enforce strict regulations on construction waste or conduct, while others are more relaxed. Never assume you know the local rules regarding what you can and cannot do. It never hurts to double-check local guidelines and make sure you’re in full legal compliance. Save yourself some fines later.
Watch the Landscape
As you begin the dewatering process, keep an eye on the surrounding environment. Is the moving water causing rapid erosion? Is it raining and thus slowing down the whole process? If you notice anything that may be hindering your dewatering efforts, discontinue the job and wait for conditions to improve. A quick job is not worth the potentially huge safety risk.
Pro Tip: When it’s time to empty your Aqua-Barrier, simply drain the water back into the area it came from. No post-construction restoration is needed!
Diligent Dewatering Methods
Dewatering is a relatively straightforward process. However, it’s not a job to be approached lightly. You should always research your obligations as a construction supervisor and survey your local environment before work begins. Don’t let yourself get in legal trouble or put your worksite in danger.
Connect with us to learn more about how to safely dewater your construction site.
Many construction projects require dewatering in order to reach the areas that need repairs, and building a boat ramp is certainly no exception. Boat ramp construction carries with it the added risk of working literally in a large body of water, with just a small area dewatered and portioned out for the construction work. With this in mind, safety becomes an absolute priority for yourself and your coworkers.
Creating a Safe Work Environment
As you work to keep your final product up to a high standard of safety for future users, make sure to pay the same close attention to your employees and your own safety. Keep these essential safety tips in mind as you work:
- Maintain your equipment
- Train your employees thoroughly
- Use a quality dewatering method
- Keep the worksite clean and safe
1) Maintain Your Equipment
An unfortunately high percentage of workplace accidents are caused by faulty equipment. The best way to combat this problem is through simple equipment maintenance. Keep an eye on your machines and replace any faulty parts immediately. If your inflatable cofferdam springs a leak, have it patched as soon as possible. Keep everything in perfect working order to prevent an accident.
2) Train Your Employees Thoroughly
Of course, even brand new equipment isn’t any good if your employees don’t know how to safely use it. On top of that, any system updates or new additions to your equipment set confuse even experienced construction workers. What’s the best solution? A near-constant training plan. Anytime your plan or equipment set changes, keep your employees fully informed and knowledgeable on how to handle everything.
Pro Tip: Even if nothing has changed, have your employees periodically take a test to demonstrate they still know how to handle all your construction equipment. Forgetting a critical piece of knowledge could lead to disaster.
3) Use a Quality Dewatering Method
Building a boat ramp requires a significant amount of dewatering to be done before work can truly begin. To both speed the process along and ensure your crew’s safety once the water has been removed, use a high-quality dewatering method such as the Aqua-Barrier. Drain the water from your worksite and use an inflatable tube to hold it all back!
4) Keep the Worksite Clean and Safe
Finally, keep the work site clear of debris. Left unattended, trash and other hazardous substances can prove to be tripping hazards or, worse, damaging to your sensitive construction equipment. You can avoid this hazard by making sure the construction site is clear at the end of every shift and making sure any and all debris is removed quickly.
Promote Safety During Your Construction Projects
Building a boat ramp already comes with a long list of important factors to consider, including the types and sizes of boats that will use the ramp, their turning radius, the water depth, and much more. Of course, the safety of the users is paramount. But long before the ramp is complete, make sure to give consideration to keeping yourself and your construction crew safe during the building process.
Connect with us to learn more about boat ramp construction safety and workplace safety in general for your future projects.