Find a Safe Space to Ride Out the Storm Share The U.S. experiences over 100,000 thunderstorms each year, and approximately 10 percent of these storms are classified as severe. Severe thunderstorms commonly form tornadoes. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), tornadoes are responsible for 56 fatalities on average in the U.S. each year, though some storm seasons can be significantly more deadly. For example, more than 580 people were killed by tornadoes during the spring of 2011. They are quick and destructive and can appear with little time for warning. Because tornadoes can cause significant damage in a minimal amount of time, it’s vital that your organization has an action plan in place to keep employees and those you serve safe and secure. Designate a Safe Place Find the safest place in your facility and designate it as a shelter so people know where to go when seeking protection during a severe thunderstorm or tornado. Place signs, instructions and maps with directions to the safe place throughout the building, and practice safety drills regularly to test the effectiveness of these signs. There are a number of things to consider when identifying a safe place to shelter. Among those are the relative location in the building (lower floor, center, away from windows, etc.) as well as the type of construction. BEST AREAS Basements Rooms constructed of reinforced concrete, brick or block with no windows and a heavy concrete floor or roof system overhead Small interior rooms with no windows, such as locker rooms and lavatories Hallways positioned away from doors and windows and not open to the direction of the tornado Any protected area away from doors and windows WORST AREAS Gymnasiums and auditoriums Rooms with large windows and doors Hallways exposed to the direction of the tornado Rooms with chimneys or beneath large, heavy roof-mounted equipment Remember, you are simply trying to locate the safest area in your building. The guidelines above should be used with considerable caution and judgement to establish the safest shelter area based on your building’s characteristics. These factors are very important, but in no way are intended to be a complete list. It may be noted that a severe weather shelter in the absolute sense may not exist in your building, but most buildings have areas that are safer than others, and these areas should be designated as the storm shelter areas. Other factors to consider include the direction of the windstorm or tornado, age of occupants, required floor space per person and “two ways out,” among others. For additional information regarding identifying an appropriate shelter location, check out these resources: Federal Emergency Management Agency Metropolitan Emergency Managers’ Association Stock Up on Critical Items Have the following items on hand in your safe place: Blankets Weather radios First-aid kit Food and water Mobile phones Flashlights Batteries Emergency contact numbers Taking the time now to evaluate (or reevaluate) your current safety shelter and supplies will make a big difference when severe weather strikes. Tags Natural Disasters & Emergencies Nonprofit & Human Service Religious Organization Small Business Safety & Prevention © 2023 The GuideOne Center for Risk Management, LLC. All rights reserved.This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.