Tornado Season & The Workplace

This year is flying by, and we have now entered into tornado season. The following covers some procedures at work and a few tips that you should consider for use at home.

About 1,200 tornadoes hit the U.S. annually, but these numbers are skewed, given the records only go back to 1950. Also, tornado spotting and reporting methods have changed a lot over the last several decades, which means that we are observing more tornadoes. Tornado season usually refers to the time of year the U.S. sees the most tornadoes. The peak “tornado season” for the southern Plains (Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas) is from May into early June. But remember, tornadoes can happen at any time of year. Tornadoes can also occur at any time, but most often occur between 4–9 p.m.

What is the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning?

  • Tornado Watch: issued when weather conditions are favorable for severe weather and tornadoes. A Tornado Watch can cover parts of a state or even be cast across several states. Suppose you are in an area under a Tornado Watch. In that case, you should keep an eye on the weather, know your emergency plan and verify that everyone else in your group knows the plan.
  • Tornado Warning: issued when a tornado has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. There is a severe threat to life and property to those in the path of the tornado. A Tornado Warning issued for your area means to take immediate action and execute your plan.

What’s in the plan at work?

  • During a Tornado Watch:
    • Send out a communication alerting everyone in your company to the current weather conditions (email, text, or even the intercom).
    • Turn on and monitor the weather and/or track via the internet.
    • Verify that any tornado shelters or safe spaces are accessible.
    • Directors and management should verify that all employees in their departments received the communication and are aware of tornado procedures (including what to do with any guests).
    • If there are any visitors, welcome them to stay in your office and take shelter. You cannot force someone to stay though. That’s called kidnapping!
    • Have all of your belongings together (car keys, phone, etc.), so they are easy to grab if needed.
    • Know where shelter(s) and safe spaces are located.
    • Be prepared to move into a designated shelter if a Tornado Warning is issued for your area.
  • During a Tornado Warning:
    • An announcement should be made over an intercom system or by having management members alert the entire office space verbally.
    • Stop what you are doing and immediately go to a designated shelter, do not run outside to see the storm or walk across the office to get your personal items.
    • If you are on the phone, tell the person you are speaking with that you are in a tornado warning and have to go and that you will call them back as soon as possible.
    • Stay in the safe area until an all-clear is given. If your office experiences building damage, follow an evacuation procedure that should already be in place in case of emergencies.
    • Remember, people handle emergencies differently. Be courteous to others in the shelter with you and mind what you say.
    • During these situations, rumors can spread very quickly. Allow a leadership team to communicate the current weather and situation to everyone.

Tips for at Home:

The same theories apply, be prepared to shelter, shelter when necessary, only leave your designated shelter area when safe to do so.

  • Some things to think about:
    • Do you have a designated spot to shelter at home?
    • Does your family know where to shelter?
    • Do you have a designated location to meet if your home is impacted by a storm?
    • Have you included household pets in your storm plan?
    • Never touch downed power lines.
    • Do not drive directly after a tornado or strong winds. Power lines could be down and hard to see.
    • You may have been told in the past that if you are in a car, stop get out and lay in a ditch or under an overpass. The new thought is to try and drive away from the storm. If you cannot, park the car, with the seat belt on assuming the crash position (head as low as possible). Use a blanket or jacket attempt to cover your face and head, if possible.

If you have any questions concerning our tornado plan, please feel free to reach out to My HR Professionals. (479) 474-7752 | | Contact us!

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