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So in your Daily Toolbox Talks and Pre Job Risk Assessments, how do you and your staff gauge weather risks?

For everyone who has to work outside, in your daily toolbox or pre job hazard assessment forms how do you measure and gauge your weather risks.   Regardless of the environment you live within, the weather is a critical part of the RISK ASSESSMENT and PLANNING stage in your work. From hail and heat waves, to thunderstorms and tornadoes, severe weather in Canada takes many different forms in the summer months. It is by knowing what to expect and how to prepare for it, that you will be able to protect yourself, your family and your property from summer weather hazards.

When you talk weather you need to think about a few key items other than will I become wet or cold or bake my brains out today.  Two elements are essential in the formulation of disaster risk: the probability of occurrence of a hazard, and the vulnerability of the community to that hazard. Risk = Hazard Probability x Vulnerability A closer look at (a) the nature of hazards and (b) the notions of vulnerability allows for a better and more comprehensive understanding of the challenges posed by disaster mitigation: (i) Nature of hazard – By seeking to understand hazards of the past, monitoring of the present, and prediction of the future, a community or public authority is poised to minimize the risk of a disaster. The National and Local Weather agencies play a key role in this aspect of risk management of weather-related natural disasters. (ii) Notions of Vulnerability – The prevailing conditions within any group of people in a society can determine the extent of their susceptibility or resilience to loss or damage from a natural hazard. The community vulnerability is the susceptibility and resilience of the community and environment to natural hazards. Different population segments can be exposed to greater relative risks because of their socio-economic conditions of vulnerability. Reducing disaster vulnerability requires increasing knowledge about the likelihood, consequences, imminence and presence of natural hazards, and empowering individuals, communities and public authorities with that knowledge to lower the risk before severe weather events, and to respond effectively immediately afterwards.

When bad weather is imminent or known based upon accurate data in your area or district you must consider Successful warning programs strive to ensure that every person or organization at risk:

  • receives the warning;
  • understands the information presented;
  • believes the information;
  • personalizes the risk; (v) makes correct decisions; and
  • responds in a timely manner.

An individual’s perception of risk is enhanced if:

(i) warning messages before and during a particular event are issued and updated frequently;

(ii) warnings are delivered by multiple credible sources;

(iii) warning messages are consistent;

(iv) the basis for the warning is clear; and

suggested response actions are included

 

Now that you have covered risk now do you cover the items these type of weather bring and what items make take place or your action plan if!   Lightening is prime example of this, Lightning Safety

Each year lightning kills approximately 10 Canadians and injures approximately 100 to 150 others. So, how do you keep yourself and your family safe when lightning strikes? Read the tips and information below and stay safe!

The first and most important thing to remember is that if you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance of lightning. Take shelter immediately. If you cannot find a sturdy, fully enclosed building with wiring and plumbing, get into a metal-roofed vehicle. Stay inside for 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.

Once indoors, stay away from electrical appliances and equipment, doors, windows, fireplaces, and anything else that will conduct electricity, such as sinks, tubs and showers. Avoid using a telephone that is connected to a landline.

If you are in your car during lightning, do not park under tall objects that could topple, and do not get out if there are downed power lines nearby.

If you are caught outside, don’t stand near tall objects or anything made of metal, and avoid open water. Take shelter in a low lying area.

If caught on the water in a small boat with no cabin during thunder and lightning, quickly get to shore. Boats with cabins offer a safer environment, but it’s still not ideal.

Remember, there is no safe place outdoors during a thunderstorm. Once in a safe location, remain there for 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder is heard before resuming your outdoor activities.

People who have been struck by lightning do not carry an electrical charge and can be safely handled, but victims may be suffering from burns or shock and should receive medical attention immediately. If you come across someone who has been struck, call for medical assistance immediately and, if breathing has stopped, administer mouth-to-mouth or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Or  even LEVELS of the RISK like;

Two types of summer heavy rains:

  1. Large scale weather systems with long-term rainfall –
    These large weather systems can last several days. Environment Canada issues Rainfall Warnings for this type of event.
  2. Short-lived thunderstorms with significant rainfall –
    Within a short period of time, sometimes only minutes, localized downpours from thunderstorms can produce flash flooding. Environment Canada issues Severe Thunderstorm Warnings for these types of rainfall events.

Heavy Rain Safety:

  • Routinely monitor the Environment Canada weather forecasts for watches and warnings of potential heavy rains or severe thunderstorms with local heavy downpours.
  • Know potential risks for flooding in your area and plan an escape route to higher ground but keep in mind the threat from lightning which is greater on high ground.
  • During heavy rains, avoid roadway underpasses, drainage ditches, low lying areas and water collection areas. They can unexpectedly flood or overflow.  DO NOT TRY TO DRIVE ACROSS A FLOODED ROAD. You can’t tell the condition of the road under the water.
  • Stay away from power lines or electrical wires during floods.
  • Monitor the provincial government flood forecasts and warnings.

Or High Winds and safety knowledge

Wind

strong wind does not only occur on a large scale from tropical storms or low pressure systems and fronts, but also on a small scale, from thunderstorms, Chinooks or the local geography.

Strong winds, and especially gusty winds, can cause property damage or turn any loose item into a dangerous projectile, and create unsafe travelling conditions that affect your ability to safely steer your car.

When there is a wind warning for your area, you should expect inland winds to be blowing steadily at 60-65 km/h or more, or winds that are gusting up to 90 km/h or more. Secure or put away loose objects such as outdoor furniture or garbage cans, put your car in the garage, and bring livestock to shelter.

Safety Tips: High wind in combination with heavy rain can increase the risk of tree limb breakage or trees uprooting. After heavy winds, check your property for dead branches and damage. With winds between 60 and 70 km/h, you will have difficulty with balance and walking against the wind. Twigs and small branches could also blow off trees and cause a hazard, so stay inside until it is safe.

And what happens if the rain turns to large events like tornado, what did you cover, are staff prepared

Across much of Canada, “straight-line” winds (not tornadoes) cause most thunderstorm wind damage. Straight-line winds are winds that move horizontally along the ground away from thunderstorms, sometimes with tornado-like force. These strong winds may be technically labelled as microbursts, downbursts, squall lines, plough winds or derechoes and may cause swirling dust and debris often confused with tornadoes.

Just like with tornadoes, straight-line winds are capable of causing damage such as blowing down trees or buildings.  Roofing debris, tree branches, or unsecured construction materials blowing in a storm may become lethal projectiles and can cause significant damage if they hit something.  Wind-driven rain or large hail may follow the strong winds and hide potentially dangerous or deadly flying debris.  Straight-line winds may produce the same roar like a freight train noise often associated with tornadoes.

Hail could punch a large hole in your hard hat or vehicle pending force impact

Hail is formed when updrafts in thunderclouds carry raindrops upward into extremely cold areas of the atmosphere, where they freeze and merge into lumps of ice. When the lumps become too heavy to be supported by the updraft, they fall to the ground at speeds of up to 100 km/h or more.

Hailstones as large as grapefruit have been reported in Canada, but even smaller hail can be dangerous and can cause extensive damage in a matter of minutes.

The Prairies are especially vulnerable to hail, receiving more severe hail events and more damage to crops and personal property than from all other summer severe weather events combined including tornadoes, severe thunderstorm winds and heavy rains. Ontario is the other hail-prone area of Canada with over one quarter of the summer severe weather events due to hail.

 

And just when you were working on such a great tan on the worksite in walks safety

Heat and Humidity

Humidity is the amount of water vapour in the air. In forecasting, relative humidity describes the percentage of moisture in the air in comparison to how much there is when the air is saturated. The higher the reading, the greater the likelihood of precipitation, dew and fog. Relative humidity is normally highest at dawn, when the temperature is at its lowest point of the day.

High humidity makes people feel hotter than they would on a drier day. That’s because the perspiration that occurs to cool us down cannot evaporate as readily in moist, saturated air. To better describe how hot it feels in such circumstances, Canadian meteorologists developed the humidex, a parameter that combines temperature and humidity in order to reflect the perceived temperature.

Terry Penney

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