Key Elements of a Tornado Safety Plan

Alan Schmitt, ARM-P

Area Vice President Loss Control


The tornado season is here.  It is once again time to revisit our tornado safety plan.

Our plan includes three primary elements:

  1. Preparation
  2. Drill
  3. Response

Preparation:  Being prepared for a tornado starts with a good plan. The first element to consider is to determine where your employee, clients or visitors will be the safest.  Ideally, the lowest possible level, in an interior room, is the safest. The use of long halls should be used as a last resort.

Let’s review our tornado safe shelters:

  • Where are they?
  • Do all staff, clients, volunteers know where they are located?
  • Are they identified with signs?
  • Are they clear of clutter?
  • Do they have emergency lighting and working flashlights?
  • Does staff know where emergency go buckets are located?

Once you have identified these safe areas it is important that you share this information with your local emergency responders.

It is also important that specified staff be directed to listen to the weather radio and monitor weather conditions.

Drill:  All staff should take drills seriously.  It is your responsibility to assist students as directed by crisis team leaders or your supervisor.

Response:  The final key area of the plan needs to include the response after the event.  This includes such items as:

  • Staff and client accountability
  • First aid
  • Turning off electric and gas
  • Coordination with emergency responders
  • Communication with the media and parents

Many times the response will be determined by the severity of the tornado.

In summary, a good tornado safety plan begins with good planning and preparation.  It is vital that you review your plan at least yearly to make sure it still is the best possible plan you can have in place.  Once you believe you have the best plan in place, then you need to train and drill the plan so it will be properly followed in the event of a tornado.