New Season, New Hazards

Stan Szpytek

Stan Szpytek

Good morning, ProviderNation.

This past winter was certainly an interesting one, to say the least. Winter storm after winter storm has hammered the United States in what seems like the most extreme and deadly winter season in recent memory.

While spring can’t come soon enough, providers need to prepare for yet another seasonal treat– thunderstorms and tornadoes. Not to forget that hurricane season and another round of wildfires started by lightning strikes are on the horizon as well.

Weather preparedness is often addressed within the confines of “severe” events. As global temperatures appear to be on an upward trend, yet extreme cold and blizzard conditions have impacted the country for the past several months, it is difficult to plan for what will come next.

Long term care providers should consider an “all hazards” approach to weather in the same capacity they plan, prepare, respond, and recover to the other types of hazards and perils that can impact their communities. An essential component of planning is the utilization of reliable resources.

Here is a list of links to obtain critical information and concepts that should be reviewed and integrated into your community’s Emergency Operations Plan (EOP):

Additionally, a web search of similar resources for your individual state should reveal some regionally specific information pertaining to the unique weather perils that can impact your community. For example, here is a link to an outstanding resource from the State of Illinois: Illinois Emergency Management Agency- Severe Weather Preparedness:

Long term care providers need to focus on weather-related events of all types, not just the obvious events that customarily occur in your region of the country. Residing in the Phoenix-metro area, it is comforting to know that tornadoes do not typically occur in the Valley of the Sun. Yet, a tornado reportedly touched down in Mesa, Ariz., a few weeks ago, causing damage to a quiet residential neighborhood in the middle of winter.

Go figure. Be ready of all types of severe and extreme weather.

Stan Szpytek is the president of Fire and Life Safety, Inc. (FLS) and is the Life Safety/Disaster Planning Consultant for the Arizona Health Care Association and California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF). Szpytek is a former deputy fire chief and fire marshal with more than 35 years of experience in life safety compliance and emergency preparedness. FLS provides life safety and disaster planning consultative services to healthcare and senior living providers around the nation. For more information, visit or e-mail Szpytek at



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