Since 1980, the U.S. has had 40 hurricanes identified as billion-dollar disasters. The damages from the trio of Harvey, Maria and Irma in 2017 cost more than $250 billion combined, or upwards of 30 percent of the damage since 1980, making it the most expensive year in 38 seasons.

Now that hurricane season is here (June 1 – Nov. 30), it’s more important than ever for businesses of all sizes—from small to large quantity generators—to be prepared for emergencies caused by high winds, heavy rainfall and flooding. The following tips will help you better prepare to protect hazardous waste during extreme weather emergencies.

Create an emergency response plan

Companies should first strategize on a successful emergency response plan and have the plan in place before it’s needed. When creating a natural disaster emergency plan, business leaders should consider several factors.

Executives should initially determine emergency response roles. Who will make crucial decisions in the event of a storm? What’s the chain of command and communication? Who will be involved in hazardous waste management? Who will assist in waste removal?

There are many other elements that should be considered in the emergency response plan, including how to secure all hazardous waste safely outside of potential flooding areas, ways to identify what hazardous wastes could be generated and what type of reporting must be completed after an incident. Make sure to include your emergency response team, like Stericycle Environmental Solutions, in your response plan.

Securing hazardous waste already on-site

Hazardous waste should be removed prior to the arrival of severe weather, but that can be nearly impossible when a hurricane is coming your way. If your location can’t remove all hazardous waste, 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 storm. Whenever possible, move hazardous materials and wastes into higher storage areas and ensure that storage containment such as flammable liquids cabinets are sufficiently closed.

Partner with an emergency response team

There will always be situations where the correct response to a disaster might not be obvious to the untrained eye. This is when partnering with a third-party waste management provider such as Stericycle Environmental Solutions becomes crucial. When facing a large-scale event, Stericycle is able to leverage a nationwide network of experts, facilities, equipment and subcontractors. Managing hazardous waste through emergency response services helps businesses find proper disposal outlets and get help with on-site segregation.

Stericycle Environmental Solutions has responded to thousands of environmental emergency calls, providing disaster recovery assistance after hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other natural disasters.

Think your business could benefit from Stericycle’s services this hurricane season? Learn more and request a quote today by visiting

Wade Scheel is the director of governmental affairs for Stericycle Environmental Solutions, a leading provider of environmental and regulated waste management solutions. Stericycle leverages a nationwide network of experts, facilities, equipment and subcontractors to provide clients with one-call simplicity for any hazardous waste emergency response or disaster recovery need. An emergency response team can be on-site within two hours of the initial call to our 24/7 emergency call center. Learn more about Stericycle’s hazardous waste emergency services at