“A tornado watch is in effect for your area.” How many times have you heard those words on tv or radio, or received the alert on your phone? For millions of people across the country, the answer is plenty. That’s because tornadoes, like the devastating ones that hit Middle Tennessee on March 3, 2020, can occur almost anywhere and at any given time. Unfortunately, many people, especially those in the workplace, are sometimes so busy with their job duties that they fail to take notice, or worse, action. The following five tips, offered by Nashville-based BOLDplanning, can help ensure your organization’s preparedness in the event of dangerous and potentially deadly twisters in the future. 

  1. Know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A watch means that conditions are favorable for a tornado to occur and that employees should monitor the situation. A warning means that a tornado has been seen or picked up by radar and that employees should take immediate action to protect themselves. 
  2. Designate a safe room or location, such as a stairwell, interior closet or center hallway where employees can gather if a tornado warning is issued. Advise them to get under something sturdy, perhaps a desk, conference room table, or workbench if they cannot reach the designated location(s). Also, remind everyone to avoid windows—broken glass and flying debris are the number one cause of injury or death in a tornado.
  3. Keep an emergency supply kit on hand. At a minimum, the kit should contain bottled water, a flashlight, a battery-powered radio/NOAA weather radio, extra batteries, and basic first aid supplies. Visit ready.gov for a complete list of items.
  4. Make sure employees understand their individual roles and responsibilities during an emergency. Also, designate back-ups in case they are unable to fulfill those duties for any reason. 
  5. Keep your organization’s emergency preparedness plan(s) up to date. Make it a point to review them every six months, and if possible, conduct an exercise once each year. 

As evidenced by past events, including the 2011 Joplin, Missouri, tornado and the 2013 Moore, Oklahoma, tornado, twisters are a force of nature like no other. They can spin up from severe thunderstorms with little to no advance warning and disappear just as quickly. They can level buildings, leave people displaced, and force public and private sector organizations to close or alter operations indefinitely. Even worse, they can claim innocent lives. 

At BOLDplanning, our thoughts remain with those affected by the tornado outbreak in our hometown of Nashville (Davidson County), Tennessee, as well as those in nearby Wilson and Putnam counties. We also encourage employers across the state and our great nation to continue their work to improve emergency preparedness. As always, we would be honored to assist in any way that we can.