It's like a Heatwave!

No, we aren't talking about the perfect Motown anthem by Martha & the Vandellas, in this post we are talking about the current spell of hot weather. Summer is finally here, and for many of us, it is time to pack up our troubles and head off on a well deserved holiday!

But the summer period is one where businesses can find themselves at the sharp end of some very challenging disruptions. In this post, we explore some of the difficulties that hot weather can cause, and our top tips for how you can keep your organisation cool, calm and collected through the hazy summer months.

So what are the specific resilience challenges that we should be thinking about in the Summer?

Well most obvious is excessively hot weather. For some people, a run of hot and sunny days is a great excuse to top up the tan, but a heatwave can be one of the most challenging weather patterns we experience during the year.

The Met Office classifies a heatwave as five consecutive days where the temperature reaches five degrees above the average for that time of year. There is even a ‘national heatwave plan’. This contains masses of really helpful information on what all of us should consider doing when the weather is very hot, and tells the NHS and emergency services when to activate their plans to manage extra demand from the heat.

The risks of hot weather on people are obvious, but shouldn't be underestimated. Sunburn, dehydration, increased pollen counts and poor air quality can make living and working in hot weather a very dangerous prospect for everyone, especially those with existing medical conditions.

And of course, hot weather doesn't just affect us, the infrastructure we rely on is at real risk of damage and failure in hot conditions. Train tracks can buckle, road surfaces soften and equipment can overheat - all of which slows reduces our ability to get around as we would normally expect.

Through all of this of course, businesses have to continue to operate effectively. Having a plan to manage the impact of hot weather will make it easier to cope with the worst that a heatwave can throw at your business.

So what can you do? Here are our top five tips for smart heatwave planning for businesses:

  1. Support your people - your staff are the beating heart of your business and you should make sure that your heatwave contingency plan makes provision for somewhere for people to cool off, and get extra water through the day - this is especially the case if they are working outdoors, or somewhere without air conditioning. You might also want to think about flexible working to help people avoid packed and stuffy commutes.

  2. Space out meetings/deliveries - you might need to make more time between meetings, and a bigger window for supplier deliveries to take account of possible disruptions on transport networks. Make sure your vehicles are all serviced, and carry extra water in case you get stuck on the way.

  3. Reduce equipment/power needs - try and reduce the use of electrical equipment - almost all will generate unwanted heat so turn off those printers when not in use! This will also help reduce the overall demand for power, reducing the risk of power cuts.

  4. Cool your premises - try and keep the temperature down in your premises - creating an airflow by opening external doors (but not blocking fire exits) and consider investing in portable air conditioning if you don't have any.

  5. Listen to advice - when we are in a heatwave, local NHS bodies and the emergency services will be putting out lots of very sensible messages about how to look after yourself and each other in a heatwave - do your best to listen to and follow their advice.

As you have seen, some simple plans can really make a difference to your business ability to cope with the worst that very hot weather can throw at us. And if all this hot weather is too much, just stick Martha on and let her tell you how it is.


Rob Doran is the Owner and Director of Black Dog Crisis Management, helping businesses, businesses, the emergency services and the voluntary sector prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies, big or small.