Posts Tagged ‘Lightning’

What Is Your Risk Tolerance?

Monday, July 20th, 2015
It is all relative

It is all relative

Marketing guru Seth Godin posted a blog entry today about the paralyzing consequences of irrational fears, such as shark attacks (which, notwithstanding television news stories, are extremely rare events). He advises that it is “better to prepare for a hazard both likely and avoidable instead”. His comments were in the context of taking on challenges by setting aside irrational fears but, of course, are exactly consistent with the advice given in Prepare for the Worst, Plan for the Best: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery for Small Businesses. It is a mistake to focus your attention on high-severity, low-frequency risks, such as hurricanes and earthquakes as the fear can be paralyzing. Better to prepare for the “everyday disasters”, such as human errors, computer crashes, fires and the like. This approach provides an immediate benefit against a more imminent threat at a more reasonable cost. And it gradually builds resilience against the more severe, but less likely, threats.

Attorney Brett Dawson offered his take on risk tolerance at a legal workshop for small businesses at the SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) “Learn to Soar” program in Rochester, NY earlier this month. I have pages of notes from that workshop to capture his helpful insights from years of advising small business owners. He said that many business owners tend to dismiss risks as “unlikely as being struck by lightning.” But, in fact, 2500 people are struck by lightning each year in the United States and 60 of them die. While being struck by lightning is not likely to happen, it is not a non-zero risk, the point being, if there is a risk,¬†however negligible, that you can eliminate, do so, as there is no benefit to assuming it. ¬†Whether your point of reference is a shark attack or a lightning strike, a pragmatic approach to risk tolerance is best.

April Showers

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
After the Storm

After the Storm

From my office window, I took this photograph of a rainbow across the Hudson River over Lower Manhattan. It is a beautiful reminder of one of the weather risks unique to this season. At any given time, more than 1,800 thunderstorms are occurring on the earth, more commonly in the spring and summer months, but they do happen year round. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thunderstorms always produce lightning, which injures an average of 300 people and causes about 80 deaths each year. It is actually the flash flooding, most often associated with thunderstorms, that causes more deaths than lightning. The following are safety guidelines from the American Red Cross for protecting yourself and your employees from the risk of thunderstorms:

Before lightning strikes

  • Watch for darkening skies, flashes of light, or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.
  • Listen to the radio for the latest weather forecast.

The storm approaches

  • Find shelter in a building or car. Keep the windows closed.
  • Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Unplug appliances. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances.
  • Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose.
  • Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can cause overload.
  • Draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due to objects blown by the wind, the shades will prevent glass from shattering indoors.

If you’re caught outside

  • If you are in the woods, take shelter under the shorter trees.
  • If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately!
  • Go to a low-lying, open place away from trees, poles, or metal objects. Make sure the place you pick is not subject to flooding.
  • Squat low to the ground. Place your hands on your knees with your head between them. Make yourself the smallest target possible by occupying the smallest surface area.

After the storm

  • Stay away from storm-damaged areas.
  • Listen to the radio for information and instructions.

If someone is struck by lightning

  • People struck by lightning carry no electrical charge and can be handled safely.
  • Call 911 or emergency medical services for help.
  • Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR. If the person has a pulse and is breathing, look and care for other possible injuries.

Make certain that your employees are familiar with these safety guidelines and encourage them to share this information with their families.