Marilyn Blake is
officer of Telcom
Contact her at
ccording to the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA), tornadoes generally last
about 10 minutes, traveling distances of
about 20 miles. Tornadoes occur mostly in the Mid-
west, and most often in the spring and summer.
Most deaths and injuries happen to people who are
unaware or uninformed that the conditions for a tornado are
present in their communities. It doesn’t have to be that way.
The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC)
issues tornado watches when conditions are right for twisters
in any part of the United States. If a tornado “watch” is issued
for your area, it means that a tornado is “possible.” If a tornado
“warning” is issued, it means that a tornado has actually been
spotted or is strongly indicated on radar, and it is time to go to
a safe shelter immediately. Some communities have sirens
that sound to alert the public of impending danger from a tornado. If damaging winds and hail are more likely than tornadoes, SPC issues severe thunderstorm watches for threatened
areas. The SPC maps the weather watches, and text on its
products page gives details about each watch as well as technical discussions of the weather factors leading to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. You can check for activity by
While most people take time to determine the safest location to be when a tornado warning sounds at home, what
about when they’re at work? Don’t put your employees or your
family in more jeopardy by not having a plan. Devise a plan for
your office and make sure everyone knows and understands it.
Supervisors should inform employees on what steps to take
when a tornado threatens while at work. It’s important to have
a drill for work and for home so that you are sure that everyone
knows what to do in a tornado emergency.
Make a plan for your family and one for your employees.
Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address
and phone number of the contact person.
Follow these steps to prepare for a
l The Red Cross suggests assembling a disaster supplies kit, including
a first aid kit, canned food and opener,
battery powered weather radio, flashlight and extra batteries, necessary medicines, bottled water, study shoes and
work gloves, and written instructions on how
to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise such action.
l Keep a weather alert radio in the safety/security office
at work so someone can be aware of storm and tornado
watches and warnings. Make it someone’s responsibility to
monitor the conditions and follow your company policy for
notification of others.
l Before tornado season, remind employees of a safe location
once a warning has been issued. The area may be in the building’s basement. If your building doesn’t have a basement then
a center hallway, bathroom or closet on the lowest floor where
there are no windows are all good choices. Remember to keep
this area uncluttered as you will likely only have a few minutes’
notice of an impending tornado. If you are in a high-rise building and there’s not enough time to make it safely to the lowest
floor, go to a hallway in the center of the building.
l Listen to the radio for instructions or for the cancellation of
the warning so that you know it is safe to come out.
What to Do