Just a few short years ago, a tornado outbreak cut a wide swath through the Ohio Valley. The outbreak – the second deadliest March outbreak on record – left a path of destruction across Kentucky, Indiana and much of the southeastern United States.
The tornado leveled homes, businesses, churches and schools. The outbreak began early and picked up steam throughout the day, slamming into Henryville, Ind. just as schools were dismissing for the day.
Is your facility prepared for a tornado? Tornado season is at its peak from March to May, so now is the time to review plans. Check out these preparation steps, courtesy of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration:
Identify a safe shelter. Basements are best, but if no underground shelter area is available, identify an interior room on the lowest level of your facility. Avoid large, open spaces such as auditoriums or cafeterias.
Equip the shelter area. Secure a first aid kit in the designated shelter area. Consider adding a weather radio to the kit, too.
Establish an alarm system. Test the system regularly, and be sure staff members recognize the alarm.
Prepare to get an accurate headcount. How will you account for all the people in your facility? Keep updated lists and logs of staff, visitors and anyone else that might be in your facility on any given day. Designate a staff person to take charge of those lists in an emergency. Know who is in your shelter area, and who is not accounted for in an emergency.
Practice, practice, practice. Hold training drills throughout the year, and identify areas for improvement.
For more information, check out this preparedness guide developed by NOAA, FEMA and the American Red Cross.