Tornado Shelter at Work
There you are at work minding your own business. Maybe you’re playing video games on the company computer while pretending to be deep in thought planning your next project, when the unthinkable happens. Your all hazard radio starts squawking and indicates that a tornado funnel is on the ground in your area. Do you and your employees know what to do?
Keep in mind that the City’s tornado outdoor warning sirens are not designed to be heard inside. So you will need another method of monitoring critical weather such as an all hazard radio and mainstream media. We understand that shutting down your facility and taking shelter costs your business money, but want to assure you that a tornado warning is only issued when the National Weather Service identifies a tornado signature on radar or a trained storm spotter sees a funnel on the ground. When you hear a tornado warning issued for your area you and anyone in your facility should take immediate shelter.
Before a tornado strikes, identify the safe areas in your facility and consider putting a tornado shelter sign on the door. Look for safe areas that are:
- On the lowest level possible
- Small interior rooms, such as closets or restrooms
- Away form doors, windows, and outside walls
- Avoid rooms with flat wide-span roofs such as gyms and auditoriums
Assign individuals that are responsible for monitoring the weather and alerting others of imminent danger. Develop a plan for instructing employees and visitors to seek shelter. Think about how those plans may affect someone with a disability or that does not speak English. If you are in an industrial facility consider how high noise areas will impact your warning method.
Develop a system to identify employees and visitors that are in the facility and account for them as they enter the shelter. You might want to use attendance records, sign in sheets, etc. and check people off as they arrive.
Consider storing some basic emergency supplies in the shelter location including:
- All hazard weather radio with extra batteries
- First aid kit/AED
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- Emergency blankets
The City does not issue an “all clear”. Monitor mainstream media and an all hazard radio to determine when the threat has passed and it is safe to leave the shelter. Conduct periodic tornado drills so that everyone knows what to do and can execute the plan quickly.
The staff at Kansas City Emergency Management is here to help you. Please contact our office if you would like someone to visit your facility and help suggest safe room locations based on conventional wisdom. Don’t forget to visit our other pages designed specifically for the business community and your personal preparedness.