It’s hard to know where to turn when a natural disaster strikes—especially when the effects of Mother Nature negatively impact your health club business.

That’s why IHRSA and our group purchasing suppliers have put together a list of resources our members can use to both prepare for a natural disaster and mitigate the damages after one strikes.

Hurricanes and Flooding

Hurricane season is June through November in the U.S. The winds from these storms can exceed 155 mph and the tornadoes, microbursts and storm surges associated with hurricanes often add to the devastation.

To help clubs prepare for and recover from a hurricane, our friends at Grainger put together a handy checklist of equipment and supplies you should have on hand.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), flooding has caused more damage in the U.S. than any other severe, weather-related event. FEMA records show that over the past 10 years, the average claim due to flood damage amounted to over $33,000.

Grainger has created a flooding preparedness and recovery checklist, too.

Winter Weather

January and February are busy months for health clubs, but the increase in member traffic makes it even more important to keep a close eye on cold weather safety measures.

To help you keep your members and facilities safe, Philadelphia Insurance, an IHRSA Group Purchasing supplier, created a list of six winter safety considerations that should be top-of-mind during the winter months.

  1. Freeze Prevention: Cold weather freeze-ups can damage or place vital fire protection systems out of service. Past losses include a single freezing-wind and snow storm which caused $880 million of property damage in 41 states. If inspections and preventive maintenance are not performed on your automatic sprinkler system, cold weather may result in sprinkler pipe breakage, major water damage, and an impaired automatic sprinkler system. A preventive maintenance program should be ongoing; however, it is particularly crucial during cold weather where there is a need for "winterizing" automatic sprinkler systems.
  2. Slips, Trips, and Falls: While some local ordinances may allow for up to 24 hours for snow and ice to be removed from sidewalks, organizations should operate with best practices in mind, rather than minimum legal requirements. If your employees, clients, and visitors need and expect a safe walking surface, the best practice is to accomplish this as soon as reasonably possible. Moreover, compliance with a local ordinance does not fully protect your organization from slip, trip, and fall liability.
  3. Sauna Safety: Sauna usage increases as the weather temperatures decrease, therefore paying closer attention to your sauna maintenance schedule can play a huge role in preventing damage or injury. Have a formal inspection program of the facility that includes staff walkthroughs of the locker room sauna areas every 30 minutes. The inspection should ensure that no combustible materials left in the sauna area such as towels or newspapers and that the sauna timer is off when not in use and the heater guard is operational and not blocked. Ensure that your fire sprinkler system is maintained on a regular basis and consider adding a high temperature sprinkler head into your sauna if it does not currently have fire sprinkler protection.
  4. Tanning Bed Safety: Tanning bed usage can be increased in the winter months also. Tanning beds should be sanitized after each use and cleaned accordingly to manufacturers standards. Information on any chemicals used should be available for consumer review in the event of a skin irritation or other query. Using a chlorine or ammonia concentrated cleaner that is specific for tanning beds may be recommended, as it can help kill hepatitis or sweat absorbed viruses. Only one person should be permitted in the tanning room at a time as the rays may be harmful to their eyes if they are not wearing eye protection.
  5. New Member Education: It is common for health and fitness facilities to have an increase in new membership in January as many new customers are starting a New Year’s resolution to have a healthier life in the new year. While the new members are a welcomed addition to the club, they can present a heightened liability for the club if they are unfamiliar with training in a gym, especially using lifting machines. Over exertion can be a common loss exposure for a gym from members over training and injuring themselves. Proper new member screening and training can help prevent new members from hurting themselves or somebody else.
  6. Cold Weather Exercise: Even in cold weather, some members will want to continue training outside, especially runners. Consider a tips sheet for cold-weather runners, including a statement that they exercise outside at their own risk. The tips sheet should include information on proper footwear and clothing, staying visible and giving wide berth to vehicles and others on the road, running with a partner to provide help and support if needed, and knowing when safety dictates to keep the workouts inside.

Wildfires

When there’s a drought in your area, there’s inevitably an increased risk of wildfires.

Here is some information to help you lower your health club’s risk and damage from wildfires from Philadelphia Insurance.

To protect your club from wildfires, you should:

  • Create and maintain defensible space around your property
  • Strategically place fire-resistant plants to resist the spread of fire
  • Cover chimneys with a screen
  • Ask your utility company to trim trees away from power lines
  • Check condition of fire extinguishers
  • Practice fire drills and emergency evacuation
  • Note the location of the closest fire hydrant or water supply

Warm Weather

During the summer season, rising temperatures mean rising risk for health clubs—and they’re not as predictable as one might think.

It’s critical to make sure you are getting proper ventilation and temperature control in your facility. Exercising in extreme heat can lead to many various medical issues for your members. Also make sure you have cold liquids readily available and easily accessible and air conditioning is working properly at all times.

During a heat wave, you should also consider the added risks of moving exercise training outdoors.