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Weather forecasters say weather patterns could lead to more twisters than usual. Here’s how to protect your business and your employees from these destructive and deadly storms.
Tornado activity is forecast to be above normal for 2021 with the number of tornadoes expected to reach up to 1,500 across the United States, according to AccuWeather long-range meteorologists. Typically, there are between 1,250 and 1,400 tornadoes each year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Other prognosticators have pointed to the La Niña weather pattern for what could be a costly and deadly tornado season in 2021.
Tornado season officially began with the first day of spring, and before March had ended, there were two Level 5 severe storm warnings across the South. Level 5 is the highest risk and indicates that widespread severe storms are expected. Dozens of tornadoes have already touched down in Georgia and Alabama and several people have been killed.
The geography and topography of the United States makes it the perfect breeding ground for these deadly storms, which is why the United States leads every country in the number of tornadoes. Despite the elevated risk and the unpredictability of these storms, businesses can take steps before, during and after a tornado to protect their buildings and their people.
Before the storm
Businesses should map out a tornado preparedness strategy that includes identifying the safest areas in a building so people know where to congregate in the event of a warning; naming tornado wardens; practicing a sheltering plan; and posting signs in buildings to direct employees, customers and visitors to safe areas.
To minimize property damage, businesses should consider securing outdoor gear and outbuildings (barns, sheds, garages, etc.) so they don’t become airborne missiles; reinforce garage doors and roof strapping; and place computer servers and vital equipment in tornado-resistant areas of the building.
During a tornado
When a tornado is approaching, it can be hard to stop and think, “What should I do now?” The most obvious answer is to seek shelter, moving quickly to the safest areas inside a building, because those remaining outside could be exposed to wind-driven debris.
The best places to find shelter are the lowest parts of most buildings, such as a basement or an internal hallway, making sure to stay away from windows and doors. If possible, seek cover beneath a table, desk or any sturdy furniture.
After the storm
When the tornado threat is over, business owners should look out for the hazards left behind, paying special attention to leaking gas or flammable liquids. If employees are still trapped inside a building, they should remain calm and alert rescue personnel by calling out for help or banging on a wall or an exposed pipe. Those involved in cleaning up after the storm should be cautious of exposed wires, sharp edges and dangerous debris.
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