Tornados – How to Protect Your Business

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stresses the crucial need for preparation and research when dealing with the onset and aftermath of tornadoes. In fact, with careful and meticulous planning, much of a tornado's damage to life and property can be minimized.

Formulate an Emergency Response Plan
FEMA encourages business owners to formulate an emergency repsonse plan that can rapidly and securely protect all employees, visitors, and other persons at the business' location when tornadoes are in the area. To that end, many business owners appoint one staff member as an “emergency response officer.” This individual will initiate the response plan and act as leader during the plan's enaction.

Minimize potential threats to business property
Remove dead or dying trees from your property as these can cause injury or damage to the building and equipment. Secure unstable materials such as supplies and raw materials inside their own shelters.

Monitor local and government media for information
When tornadoes are in the area, listening to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's (NOAA) National Weather Service radio will keep you informed of any tornadoes in your general area.

Remember that a tornado watch is issued when there is a distinct possiblity of tornadoes forming in your area. A tornado warning is sounded when a tornado funnel is sighted by weather radar. Upon learning of a tornado warning, the emergency response plan should go into effect.

Know where to take shelter
Take shelter in an area underground – a basement or parking garage – or an inside, windowless area on the lowest level of the building. Such areas might include a main hallway, interior conference room, or large supply closet.

The shelter area can also be supplied with a first aid kit, flashlights and spare batteries, a battery-powered radio, and bottled water. Employees should sit facing the walls, away from the door. If time permits, disconnect and shut off all utilities and the building's main gas valve.