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Cold weather brings freezing temperatures, and with it, a potential for frozen drinking and wastewater utilities. While this may not sound like a big deal, frozen utilities can cripple communities and stop all access to clean drinking water or waste disposal. Prepare for any emergency brought on by extreme temperatures.

The risk

Extreme weather emergencies can lead to danger. Understanding the risk can help you develop a plan and communicate with management the “why” of your plan. Explain that cold weather can lead to a few setbacks, including:

  • Disabled road travel,
  • Frozen utility lines,
  • Loss of power,
  • Loss of communication, and
  • A reduced workforce.

The plan

To keep yourself and fellow employees safe, you need to develop a plan addressing environmental and facility-specific information. While you must monitor weather conditions, it’s equally crucial to consider what challenges employees might face when trying to maneuver through your facility in the event of an emergency.

Several items should go into your plan, including:

  • Who is responsible for monitoring weather conditions;
  • An emergency response plan;
  • Contacts of local agencies or governments (i.e., EPA);
  • A hazard assessment plan;
  • Response activities;
  • Best practices for communicating to outside customers or clients; and
  • How and where local utility emergency responders should enter your facility.