- OSHA Healthcare Advisor - http://blogs.hcpro.com/osha -

Protect now against facility flooding

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since parts of the Midwest such as Illinois and Colorado were hit with some of the worst flooding those parts of the country had ever seen.

One of the stories we will be working on for the upcoming August issue of Briefings on Hospital Safety covers the difficulties that hospitals in those areas faced in staying open during the flooding as well as the lessons they learned afterward.

“We expected flooding, but the fact is we didn’t expect the entire county would flood at the same time,” says Chuck Merritt, MS, MT (ASCP), CHSP, Director of Safety, Security and Emergency Management for Boulder Community Health in Boulder, Colorado.

The Boulder area was hit last September with what is being called a 1,000-year flood. Heavy rain combined with snowmelt from surrounding mountains combined to create a maelstrom that took out roads and bridges and literally split individual towns and cities into two.

“Even the county planners will tell you they had planned for one or two watercourses to flood at once, but we had literally seven flooding all at once,” says Merritt.

As recent storms have caused snowmelt in the mountains, emergency planners in those areas may have to put their updated plans into play.

Among the things they learned: Build walls around facilities to keep floodwaters out, make sure evacuation plans are practiced before they are needed, update your drainage systems to make sure water can only flow out of the facility, and make sure you know what your insurance plans will cover before you need to seek federal funds to help recover.