How to Be Prepared for Tornadoes at Work

Guidelines to Proper Tornado Safety at Work in OKCIs your business prepared for a major storm? Is your business prepared to protect your customers, employees, and even your own life in the event that a tornado is coming? Many people have storm shelters in areas that are heavily hit with tornados, but very few businesses have tornado shelters. Many restaurants have walk-in refrigerators, and employees can get inside of those, but what about all of the other businesses out there? If you are a business owner, read on – it could save the lives of you, your employees and your customers!

Make a Plan

The best way to ensure your business is ready for a tornado is to have an emergency preparedness plan. When dealing with a tornado this action plan should identify a place to take shelter, how community tornado warning systems will be monitored and how to account for all people during a tornado. Make sure all employees know of this plan, and have surprise practice drills. If you have a large number of employees, it makes sense to nominate several leaders and divide everyone into groups.

Identify Shelter

During a tornado the best shelter is an underground area, such as a basement or a storm shelter. However, if this type of structure is not available consider the following:

  • Small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible
  • Room constructed with reinforced concrete
  • Room or area with a reinforced ceiling

When choosing a shelter make sure it has no windows and avoid structures with flat, wide-span roofs. Also try to stay in the center of the room. Ensure the shelter location is stocked with adequate emergency supplies.
If caught outdoors away from a designated shelter try to get to a suitable shelter as quickly as possible. If this is not possible here are two options:

  • Stay in the vehicle with the seat belt on, keeping your head below the windows and covering it with your hands or a blanket.
  • Get to an area noticeable lower than the roadway, lie in that area and cover your head with your hands. Do not take shelter under an overpass!


The following steps are recommended to help ensure the safety of personnel if a tornado occurs:

  • Develop a system for knowing who is in the building in the event of an emergency.
  • Establish an alarm system to warn workers and test the system frequently. If you have workers who do not speak English ensure this information is communicated clearly to them.
  • Account for workers, visitors, and customers as they arrive in the shelter. One way to do this is to develop a check sheet from a prepared roster or schedule.
  • Assign specific duties to workers in advance; create checklists for each specific responsibility. Designate and train employee alternates in case the assigned person is not there or is injured.

This plan should be reviewed with employees on an annual basis and updated whenever a change occurs within your company. Remember, a tornado can occur at any time, any place. Make sure to protect your employee using these recommended guidelines.

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