Across the globe, natural disasters have been increasing in frequency. In the United States alone, health care organizations may face coastal storms, wildfires, floods, droughts and freezes. If your hospital experiences a natural disaster, it may impact your facilities and staff. Natural disasters can be powerful and unpredictable, so it’s crucial to prepare for them beforehand. 


Your hospital should know how to prep your facility and staff for a natural disaster. Along with providing care to your patients, your facility may find itself in a position that requires it to provide basic needs and shelter for the community. 


How Natural Disasters Affect Hospitals


Each type of natural disaster affects hospitals in different ways. Some possible effects that your hospital may want to anticipate include:


  • Loss of power: If your hospital loses power, you will not have the electricity and water you need. Losing power is one of the major challenges for hospitals in a natural disaster, as this interferes with the facility’s ability to operate. Unfortunately, even if your hospital has a generator, many hospital generators are decades old and stored in the basement, where they are at risk of flooding. 
  • Loss of infrastructure: In a natural disaster, your hospital may also experience loss of infrastructure, including your electronic records.
  • Negative impact on the supply chain: Other facilities in your area are likely to experience loss of power during a natural disaster as well, which could disrupt the supply chain.
  • Shortage of workers: Your hospital may also face a shortage of workers during a natural disaster, as staff may be unable to get to work due to injury, illness or loss of transportation. 
  • Increased number of patients: Since a natural disaster can cause injury or illness, your hospital may see a dramatic swell in the number of patients who need care.  
  • Relocation of care: You may need to relocate the care of your patients to a different location in a natural disaster. This process can be challenging, and in some cases, relocating may not be effective if the alternate location is not well equipped for the sudden influx of patients.


The role of a hospital during a disaster is often as a safe haven for people in the community, so it is essential to be prepared for these events. 




What Natural Disasters Can You Prepare For?


Your hospital should especially prepare for the more common natural disasters that may impact your facility. Your location may impact which natural disasters are more likely to impact you. For example, a hospital located in the Pacific Northwest may need to prepare for hurricanes and wildfires, while a hospital located in the Midwest may need to prepare for tornadoes and flooding. Natural disasters fall into three major categories:


  • Climatological disasters such as wildfires, drought and extreme temperature. 
  • Meteorological disasters such as storms like hurricanes and tornadoes.
  • Hydrological disasters like floods and mudslides.




Wildfires can cause substantial damage over several weeks or even months. In the Pacific Northwest, for example, a wildfire could spread from California to Oregon to Washington and cause toxic smoke that forces thousands of residents to evacuate. If your hospital is located in a region that may face the threat of wildfires, you need to have a disaster plan. 


For wildfires, hospital disaster plans should consider what the evacuation process will look like, how you will communicate with other hospitals and medical centers in the region and how you will monitor your facility’s air quality to ensure your filtration system is working.




Hurricanes can be incredibly destructive, leading to wind damage, heavy rain, flooding and power outages. After a hurricane hits your area, your hospital will likely see your occupancy rate and the stress levels of your staff increase drastically, which can present barriers to optimal patient care.


Even after a storm ends, the danger is still present, which means hospitals can continue seeing an influx of patients for days after the storm ends. Unfortunately, many communities and organizations don’t prepare for a hurricane until after experiencing a storm. 




Floods can present a serious risk to the safety of those in the community and hospital facilities. In a flood, your hospital facility may experience direct damage or disruptions to its access. Your hospital could experience the loss of: 


  • Infrastructure.
  • Medical supplies.
  • Hospital furniture.
  • Lifeline installations. 
  • Expensive medical equipment. 


Flooding can wreak havoc on a community for days, weeks or even months, which is why it is essential to plan for this natural disaster ahead of time. 




During a tornado, your hospital will face hazards from flying objects, falling objects and extremely powerful winds. Even after a tornado passes, the lingering damage can pose injury risks. Though there is no way to prevent a tornado, your hospital can take steps to protect the safety of your staff, patients and facility. 



How Hospitals Can Prepare for Natural Disasters 


Natural disasters can be unpredictable and highly destructive, but you can take action to prepare your facility and staff for a disaster before it strikes. Follow the steps below for prepping hospitals for a natural disaster.


1. Make Sure Documentation Is Accessible


Staying organized can ensure your hospital is prepared for a natural disaster. Even in an emergency, your facility needs to be able to continue functioning effectively. Your staff should have access to everything they need, including reporting tools and documents. 


If your hospital contains a lot of paperwork, these documents could be face misplacement or destruction in a flood or fire. You can mitigate these risks by using electronic tools that keep your documentation accessible and organized. You should especially safeguard the policies and procedures your facility must follow in emergencies. 


2. Identify Top Risks


Next, identify the top hazards to your facility so you can draft effective plans to manage these risks. The risks your hospital will face depends on your location, so the disaster preparedness plan for a hospital located in Oregon may differ significantly from a hospital in Florida. For example, while a Florida hospital may be preparing for floods and hurricanes, a California hospital will be preparing for wildfires and earthquakes.  


Knowing what your hospital’s top risks are can help you prepare for the most likely scenarios.


3. Create Disaster Plans


Once you have determined your facility’s greatest hazards, you can create a more effective disaster plan. Your disaster plan should include the protocols and policies your staff needs to follow in the event of an emergency. Establish how you will communicate during a disaster and what to include in your recovery efforts. Ensure you are also communicating your disaster plans to your staff so that everyone is aware of their responsibilities.  


4. Perform Drills


When unprepared for an emergency or dire situation, people may panic. Perform drills in your hospital to prevent this panic and confusion. By regularly performing drills, your staff will understand how to evacuate and how to transport patients to alternate facilities. 


Additionally, you will be demonstrating to your staff that a proper protocol is in place and your entire facility is prepared, eliminating confusing guesswork during an actual emergency.



Contact Foster Fuels


Fuel quality is important for your hospital’s emergency preparedness. At Foster Fuels, we offer emergency fueling and can handle any disastrous event with our award-winning emergency and risk management services. Our Mission Critical division has worked on several notable missions, including Superstorm Sandy and the Haiti earthquake. Our expertise and reputation are unrivaled, allowing us to provide your hospital with results and unmatched service. We offer our services across the nation, including:



We provide emergency fuel services for hospitals 24/7, 365 days a year. Contact Foster Fuels to utilize our emergency fuel management solutions.