Identify Safe Areas for Workplace Tornado Safety

When it comes to tornado safety at the workplace, recent history shows that merely being inside a business does not guarantee sufficient protection from nature’s wrath.

Basement rooms, preferably those along an exterior foundation wall, provide the greatest degree of safety from tornados. Organizations that do not have access to basements should identify safe zones within the structure when it is not feasible to evacuate workers to a safer external location.

Safe rooms and designated safe areas of the building should be accessible from all parts of the work area and conform to local fire codes. Practice moving to safe rooms in the event of severe weather and incorporate the concepts of storm safety during employee training opportunities.

Tornado season also brings its share of myths when it comes to finding shelter in a storm. The following are some of the most common questions regarding tornado safety:

Q: Should I open windows as a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage?

A: Since virtually all buildings leak air, leaving windows open only invites wind damage inside the room. Leave the windows closed and focus on taking shelter immediately. Basements and windowless interior rooms are your best bets to avoid flying debris.

Q: Do highway overpasses provide safe shelter from tornadoes?

A: No, they do not. In fact, overpasses are very dangerous in a tornado. If you find yourself in a vehicle as a tornado approaches, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If that is not possible, stay in the car with your seatbelt fastened and duck down below the windows. Cover your head with a jacket or blanket if possible. If you can safely exit your vehicle and get below the level of the roadway, lie down and cover your head with your hands.

Q: Is it safe to take shelter in a windowless room of a mobile home?

A: There is no safe place in a mobile home. Abandon the building immediately and seek shelter in a sturdy building. Identify the closest sturdy building as part of your tornado preparedness efforts.

Q: Do lakes and rivers provide protection from tornadoes?

A: No geographic location is safe from tornadoes.

To learn more about how Saint Francis Medical Center can help you protect your workforce, call Chad Clippard, referral services manager, at 573-331-3019.