Tornado Awareness: Are You Prepared?

August 22, 2017 – According to the National Weather Service, Midwestern states experience an average of 40 tornadoes per year. Knowing what to do in a severe weather situation can protect human, physical, and financial resources. This includes ensuring employees are properly protected during severe weather.

Tornadoes are capable of occurring 7-8 months out of the year in the Midwest, and can often occur without warning. Employers should take precautions in advance of storms to stay safe and limit injury if a tornado occurs. Below is a general preparation guide for employers located in tornado-prone areas.

Know the Warning Signs

Weather radar systems are used to detect air movement, which indicates potential for a tornado to form. Environmental clues can also suggest a tornado is forming, such as dark or greenish clouds/sky, wall cloud, large hail, funnel cloud, or roaring noises.

Establish a Safe and Sheltered Location

Underground areas provide the best protection from a tornado. If an underground area is unavailable, consider the following:

  • Select a small room or hallway on the lowest floor possible, absent of any windows or outside walls
  • Rooms constructed with reinforced concrete or brick are preferred
  • Avoid auditoriums, cafeterias, or large rooms where airborne debris could cause injury

Employers with a mobile workforce may need to identify safe locations for each job site, preferably a basement or sturdy building located nearby.

Create a Personnel Accountability Plan

Employers should develop a system for knowing who is present in the event of an emergency, including workers, visitors, and customers. During an emergency, count individuals as they arrive to the designated shelter and ensure your system records match with those inside the shelter.

There are several resources available to employers for notifying employees in case of an emergency. These may include traditional methods, such as an audible alarm set outdoors by the community, an indoor public address (PA) system, a hand-held blow horn, personal radios/walkie-talkies, or perhaps a group communication system via a smart phone email or text alert. Multiple systems may need to be used depending on the work environment.

Develop Supply Kits

Make sure to store supply kits at the identified safe location(s). A basic emergency supply kit includes:

  • Water – one gallon of water per person for up to three days
  • Food – supply of non-perishable food for up to three days
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Read more…

Train Your Workforce

All employers should have an emergency plan available to employees with details on how to procedure during a severe weather emergency. Practice the company’s emergency plan on a regular basis, and update plans and procedures when appropriate.


If you need assistance developing an emergency plan for tornadoes and other forms of severe weather, please contact your North Risk Partners advisor. Don’t have an advisor? No problem. We’ll help you find one.

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This blog post is not intended to be exhaustive. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice. Content provided by our consulting partners at Integrated Loss Control.

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