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Disaster Preparedness

How to Prepare Your Business for a Tornado

If you service an area affected by tornadoes, it’s wise to follow these steps to make sure your company is ready to respond safely and effectively — before, during and after the tornado. 

Plan how your company will respond.

Ahead of severe weather like a tornado, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends you create a disaster plan for your company. 

  • Assemble a planning team. This might include anyone from upper management to labor, security or sales.
  • Conduct a vulnerability analysis to find out how prepared you are to respond to a severe weather event. 
  • Make sure your employees are aware of your building’s emergency management policy, including members of onsite key personnel. 
  • Have a plan for getting ahold of first responders in case you need them to come to your business.  

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also offers step-by-step guidance for creating a disaster response plan.  

Make sure your team knows what to look and listen for. 

  • Learn how your area warns of a tornado – many places have a siren system.
  • Practice your shelter-in-place plans on a regular basis. 
  • Know the difference between a “warning” and a “watch.” 
    • A tornado watch: This means a tornado may form because of ideal weather conditions. If a tornado watch is issued in your area, pay attention to local broadcasts for news of a warning.
    • A tornado warning: This means a tornado is physically seen, either visually or through weather radar. In the case of a tornado warning, you should seek shelter immediately.  

Get the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for your team.

Ahead of a tornado, NIOSH recommends you get several different types of PPE for when you return to work. Note that you may need to adapt this equipment to specific hazards your team encounters while on the job. 

  • Goggles
  • Gas masks
  • Gloves
  • Overalls
  • Boots
  • Hearing protection
  • Other protective clothing

Questions about PPE? Contact your local Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) office. 

Understand the hazards you’ll encounter during clean-up. 

Ahead of the event or storm season, familiarize your team with hazards that can come up when you get back to work after a tornado. These hazards include, but aren’t limited to: 

  • Air quality. During and after a tornado, air quality can go down because the storm disperses contaminants. It can also affect lower indoor air quality, causing complications like headaches, eye irritation or allergies. 
  • Electrical hazards. Following a tornado, electrical hazards can pose a significant safety threat. See NIOSH’s resources for how to recognize and control electrical hazards. 
  • Falls. During clean-up, your crew may need to use ladders or walk on unstable surfaces. Familiarize yourself with NIOSH’s guidelines on how to prevent falls whenever possible.  

See a more comprehensive list of hazards and how you should respond, according to OSHA. 


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