We are currently in the midst of tornado season here in the southeastern United States. Most tornadoes occur between March and June in the United States, although they can and do occur at other times during the year as well.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the 2017 tornado season is off to an active start, with over 570 tornadoes reported through the end of April.
In terms of preparedness, it is important to remember that tornadoes can disrupt transportation, power, water, gas, communications; cause flash flooding; and of course destroy houses and other buildings. Preparedness is critical both at your home and at your workplace.
As a reminder, a tornado watch indicates that an area is experiencing severe weather that may be capable of producing a tornado; a tornado warning indicates that a tornado has been sighted. Look to see if your community or county or state has a text or email alerting system for emergency notifications.
FEMA’s ready.gov website has a section about tornado preparedness that can help you with personal preparedness in your home. They suggest things as having an emergency kit at your home, creating a family communications plan, and practicing seeking appropriate shelter. You can download their pdf How to Prepare for a Tornado guide for more details. The American Red Cross also has a preparedness checklist that you can download and use.
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is a good resource for tornado preparedness in the workplace, since OSHA is tasked with making sure that employers provide a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. At a minimum, workplaces should:
- create an Emergency Action Plan
- identify shelter locations in the workplace
- train employees on how and where to seek shelter in the workplace
- establish a system to warn employees of a tornado watch or warning
- establish a system to know who is in the building in the event of an emergency
Personal preparedness is a good place to start to make sure you’re safe in your place of work. If you’re prepared and know what to do at your home, you’ll be better prepared to know what to do if a tornado strikes while you’re at work.