Peak tornado season runs from mid-spring through early summer and, if a tornado strikes near your business, you need to react quickly. That’s why it’s crucial to develop a severe weather plan and safe areas for your employees. Follow these steps to get your company and employees ready for storm season:
1. Determine how much space you’ll require. You should have enough safe areas to fit all employees and any guests who may be in the building at the time of a tornado. Use the following guidelines from FEMA for how much space you need:
• Occupants (standing and seated): 5 square feet per person
• Wheelchair users: 10 square feet per person
2. Walk through your building to identify the safest areas. The basement typically is best. If your building doesn’t have a basement, select an area on the lowest level. Ideally, this space should be a small interior room or corridor. Avoid areas with windows and rooms with high ceilings or outside walls — these are more likely to be damaged during a storm.
3. Assess the exterior of the building. Look for trees, poles, and other items that could fall or hit the building. Don’t choose safe areas near these hazards.
4. Hold tornado drills often. Employees in all parts of the building should know where to go and practice the paths to get there.
5. Monitor the weather. A tornado watch means conditions are right for a tornado and there is a high probability of one in the surrounding area. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted in your county, or one is moving toward your area. It also could signify that weather radar indicates a high probability of a tornado.
Someone in your building should have access to a weather radio to listen for severe weather alerts. They also should monitor local radar information if a watch or warning has been issued and provide alerts and/or directions to employees.
For more information, visit www.disastersafety.org/tornado/protecting-employees or www.ready.gov/tornadoes.