Are you Prepared to Handle an Emergency Spill Response?

By Maricha Ellis VP of Marketing & Sales Operations, Stericycle Environmental Solutions | July 16, 2017

With the summer storm season upon us, its especially important for hotels to be prepared for hazardous waste emergencies caused by severe weather. Preparation for such events is crucial for safely and compliantly handling emergency spills.

Not only is proactive planning for environmental emergencies valuable from a compliance standpoint, but it can help minimize the damage inflicted within your hotel and the surrounding area, as well as reduce the risk to the health of your guests and staff members. Taking action to prepare your property and staff in the event of severe inclement weather and other common environmental emergencies can also minimize cleanup costs. By following a few simple precautions and educating yourself on some of the most common environmental emergency circumstances that can take place on hotel properties, you can make a concerted effort to reduce the damages and expenses that can result from these events.

While there are a multitude of environmental emergencies that can occur at your hotel, some situations are more likely to occur than others. Natural disasters, flooding, container leaks, fuel spills and unknown substance handling are the five most common environmental emergency circumstances you may find yourself managing the response efforts for in your hotel.

Natural Disasters

To mitigate the risks of injury, damage to the surrounding areas and environmental harm, a successful emergency response plan and team should be in place, ready to be enacted at any time a natural disaster should occur. There are several factors that must be considered when devising an emergency response plan in anticipation of a storm or other severe weather events. From standard best practices such as moving or securing all hazardous chemicals prior to the arrival of severe weather to completing the mandatory paperwork and reporting following the cleanup, there are many precautions and elements that should be considered and prepared for accordingly.

Natural disasters often result in fuel, chemical and other hazardous substances being spilled into air, land and water. However, advance preparation in anticipation of a major storm or weather emergency can go a long way in reducing the damage, time and costs associated with emergency response cleanups. For the hazardous waste that cannot be removed prior to the arrival of the severe weather, there are several safety precautions to follow when securing the materials that will remain on site. Solids and powders can be covered in plastic and secured properly, and the correct lids should be securely fastened on containers. Containment areas should be set up and properly cleaned. Known waste areas should also be cleared out in advance of a major weather event.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.