Tornadoes are one of the most destructive weather events that occur in nature. They are unpredictable and can be deadly. Most tornadoes in the U.S. occur in the central plains region of the country between western Texas to North Dakota, but they can strike anywhere, and many have hit Ohio. Protect your business by understanding tornado safety. Be prepared with the following tornado safety tips and information in case a tornado touches down in your area.
- A tornado is a column of air that rotates at a very high speed. By definition, a tornado must be in contact with the ground and a convective cloud at the same time. Most of the time, but not always, a tornado is visible as a funnel cloud.
- Every year, more than 1,000 tornadoes are recorded in the U.S. This is significantly more than Canada (the country with the second-most recorded number of tornadoes), with an average of 100 per year.
- Tornadoes develop quickly during severe thunderstorms. Most of the time there is limited or no warning.
- The most destructive and deadly tornadoes occur from supercells. Supercells also produce frequent lightning, flash floods, damaging hail and severe non-tornadic winds.
- Tornado intensity is rated according to a scale that ranges from F-0 to F-5. F-5 level tornadoes produce wind speeds of 261-318 miles per hour.
Develop a Tornado Safety Plan
Ohio businesses that are located in areas vulnerable to tornadoes should prepare an emergency crisis plan in order to preserve life and property. Your plan should include:
1. A shelter location
Where will your employees take shelter? Basements and shelters below ground are ideal, but if you don’t have a basement or underground shelter, consider interior rooms without windows. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends a location that conforms to ICC500 storm shelter criteria. The space needs to be large enough to accommodate all workers as well as customers that may be on the premise.
2. Account for employees
How will you keep track of employees and customers? Use a roster or badge system to track who is in the building and account for employees as they arrive at the designated shelter. Manually notate customer names and addresses if possible.
3. Be equipped
How well will you be prepared? In addition to basic emergency supplies, a business may need items in addition to a standard disaster kit. If needed, work with a safety management consultant to develop a custom weather safety plan, needed equipment, logistics and practical execution.
Basic Disaster Kit Supplies to Keep On Hand
- Battery-operated NOAA weather radio
- Water - 1 gallon for each person per day
- Non-perishable food – 3-day supply for each person
- First aid kit
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Cellphones and cordless power banks
4. Be prepared for clean up
How well will you be prepared for clean up? Once you’ve documented the impact of a tornado, the next step is to start cleaning up the debris. It may take some time to clean up, so have patience and don’t over-exert yourself.
Here are some useful supplies to help with clean up:
- Wear protective apparel, like sturdy shoes, hats, visors, safety glasses and work gloves.
- Wear a respirator to prevent chemical exposure by inhalation, especially in older buildings that may have asbestos.
- Wheelbarrows, shop brooms, cleaning chemicals and trash/recycling containers may all be useful during a clean up.
Every Ohio business should be prepared in the event of a weather-related disaster, whether it’s a tornado, hurricane, flood, blizzard, earthquake or other emergency situation. These tips are sensible steps for all businesses to take to prepare ahead of time. Establishing a business emergency crisis plan will help your business prepare for and recover from any losses in the event of a disaster.
Insurance policies are there to protect you, your employees and your assets, but not all coverages are the same. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your policy will protect you without making sure what is – and is not – covered under your policy. If you have any questions about your insurance policy, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local MMA risk management consultant.