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Extreme Weather - Safety Advice

Our hearts go out to the people who at the moment are experiencing all kinds of torment due to the consequences of recent storms and floods in the UK. 

I am in the midst of preparing a seminar (perhaps more later on that) for a group of media related events planners.  The subject of what to plan for with extreme weather has once again arisen. The diffculty of course becomes more pronounced, the further away from the event day you are. And sometimes, even when the date is right upon you, you can encounter quite extraordinary extremes.

If extreme weather cannot be predicted, then how can you make plans?

In short, the answer is to undertake a risk assessment and your plans will be the controls you will devise to deal with the risks. This may sound complicated but as an example, if in January you are planning an outdoor event in the UK in July, then snow and frost is quite unlikely. What extremes are you left with? Extreme/protracted rain - Yes. Extreme winds  - Yes.  Extreme temperatures and UV radiation - Yes. Electrical storms - Yes (and so on). Therefore the answer is to devise emergency systems in January. The next phase is to start checking weather forecasts as the event gets nearer. They become more acurate as the date approaches and so your plans can become more refined to meet the information. 

Is this likely to cover relevant exteme weather?  The simple answer is yes. It is LIKELY to cover relevant extreme weather but sometimes you just need to think things though thoroughly. The above photograph is an example of what I mean. This storm began as a predicted electrical storm, just about at the time predicted too. What was not expected, was the SIZE of the hail 'stones'. Hail often accompanies electrical storms. As a hazard, this was covered. It was the unexpected size and velocity with which they struck!!! - this was unexpected and, speaking to local people (this happened in the Auvergne region of France), not encountered within their memory and therefore extremely unlikely.

The deluge caused no major problems and there were plenty of safe (earthed) places to shelter. The event postponement and managments' decision making systems were also planned for as part of emergency/contingency plans. All went really well apart from many dented vehicles and several bird-fatalities (struck in mid-flight) by hail. The event resumed the next day and was a great success.

There is a lot more to the skill of making contingency plans and weather is just one potential hazard which needs to be addressed. Other complicating issues are the locality, the type of event (or work), who else might be affected, communications, time of day/year and so-on.

You can view our video footage of this weather below:

If you need any advice, support or training on health, safety, welfare or environmental health and safety training principles, please contact us.