National Safety Month Week One: Emergency Preparedness (Keeping Your Palm Beach County Home Or Workplace Safe In The Case Of A Tornado)
Spring is a highly active season for tornadoes in the USA. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tornadoes were responsible for 70 annual deaths from 1987-2016. 1,200 tornadoes make landfall in the USA each year. That's a whole lot of rain and hail. So how can you be prepared for a tornado in Palm Beach County?
Make A Plan
For any type of emergency, it's a smart idea to have a plan ready to help with any injuries, fatalities or any damage to properties if a tornado where to make landfall near you. OSHA makes it a requirement for most employers with 11 employees or more to be ready with a written and easy to understand emergency plan. If an employer has 10 or less employees, they are allowed to go over their plans orally with employees.
A director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's individual and Community Preparedness Division, Charlotte Hyams says employers should:
"Pay attention to local weather via media reports, notifications from weather apps or emergency apps such as the FEMA app, and/or a NOAA weather radio." Keep employees informed about weather conditions. Methods include text messages, emails or announcements over an intercom or loudspeaker. “A community’s outdoor warning sirens should never be your primary warning method,” said Rick Smith, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Norman (OK) Forecast Office. “Don’t rely on just one source for warnings.”
Develop a backup communication system in case the primary one fails, and test both systems regularly.
Make sure employees know where to seek shelter and assemble after a tornado passes. “That way, there can be people to take a head count and make sure everyone is accounted for,” Hyams Porter said.
Conduct regularly scheduled tornado drills. “It’s something that should be done on a routine basis. It’s not just a one-time-of-year type of drill,” Hyams Porter said.
Listen & Look
The most obvious sign there is a tornado nearby is the sudden appearance of a funnel. Other signs are:
Green/dark clouds or sky
Wall clouds appearing
Sudden and intense rotation around clouds
Persistent and strong rotation in the cloud base
Strong rain and hail followed by quick moving and strong wind shifts or a "dead calm"
A "train like" sound that doesn't go away
Floating debris by nearby grounds and just underneath clouds
Postpone travel if necessary, move to a sturdy building nearby if possible (bridges and overpasses are not good shelters: traffic can get congested making it hard for emergency vehicles to get through and debris can fly right through.), closets or restrooms are good hiding areas (a windowless room in the center of a buiilding). Covering your head with your arms and crouching face down is also a good idea.
Once the tornado passes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises the following:
Check workers for injuries. Don’t move anyone who is seriously injured unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Instead, seek medical assistance right away. Begin CPR (if trained) on anyone who has stopped breathing.
Check apps and other sources for additional emergency weather information.
Proceed with caution through damaged areas, and watch out for hazards. Wear proper personal protective equipment when handling debris.
Cooperate with emergency personnel.
Part of an organization’s emergency plan should include how an employer plans to communicate with its employees after a tornado, Hyams Porter said.
“The better prepared the businesses are, the better prepared the employees are, and the higher their chances of surviving,” she said.