Disaster Preparedness: Tornadoes
The destruction caused to the town of Moore, Oklahoma, by an unusually powerful tornado this week serves as a reminder to employers the importance of being prepared for natural disasters.
The area surrounding Oklahoma City—especially Moore, Oklahoma—was tragically devastated by an EF-5 tornado May 20. It was the area's most destructive tornado since May 1999, and unfortunately more severe weather is predicted for the broader Texarkana region this week.
The Society for Human Resources Management and U.S. Department of Labor both offer guides to help employers ready their businesses for natural disaster. Disaster preparedness content from SHRM can be found here; the Labor Department's Tornado Preparedness Guide can be found here.
According to the National Weather Service, tornadoes cause an average of 60-66 deaths and 1,500 injuries per year. These powerful phenomena can be as wide as a mile and travel for many more, moving as fast as 70 miles per hour across the ground and producing winds stronger than 200.
Unlike hurricanes or blizzards, tornadoes can happen at any time of the year. While most tornadoes end up being relatively weak, employers—particularly those operating in Tornado Alley—should be prepared for what to do if their business is struck by one of these natural disasters.