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How to Protect Your Business, Employees, and Customers During a Tornado

In recent years, the frequency and intensity of tornadoes and floods have underscored the urgent need for businesses to adopt robust preparedness strategies.

As tornados destroyed property across the nation, this period of severe weather highlighted the necessity for businesses to develop comprehensive emergency plans to protect their infrastructure, employees, and customers.

Our guide to protecting your business from tornados provides you with updated information on the location of tornados, emergency preparedness plans, and what you can do to protect what you care most about.

2023 Tornado Details

The year 2023 witnessed unprecedented tornado activity, with significant outbreaks marking the calendar and underscoring the importance of readiness. There were 1269 preliminary confirmed tornadoes, which would be the 12th most on record.

Notably, the largest tornado outbreak occurred on March 31, with the 3rd most tornadoes on record (138) and 44 strong tornadoes.

In 2022, tornadoes caused around $708 million worth of damage across the United States, with around $684,492 of property damage per storm.

When is Tornado Season?

Tornado season in the United States varies by region and can occur at any time of the year if the conditions are right. In general, tornadoes most often occur in these areas during these times:

Southern Plains (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas): May through early June is typically the region’s most active period for tornadoes.

Gulf Coast: The tornado season can start as early as March and extend through May.

Northern Plains and Upper Midwest (South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota): The peak months are late spring through early summer (June and July).

Southeast: Tornado activity can occur year-round, but there is a peak in the spring (March through May) and a secondary peak in the fall (November).

It should be noted that the National Severe Storms Laboratory states that while tornadoes often occur during the late afternoon and early evening, “they have been known to occur in every state in the United States, on any day of the year, and at any hour.”

What States are Most Likely to be Affected by a Tornado?

The states most likely to be affected by tornadoes, based on historical data and recent statistics from 2018-2022, include:

  • Mississippi: Had the highest total number of tornadoes with 115
  • Texas: Historically has the highest number of tornadoes annually, but it had 95 in the past years
  • Kansas: Located in the heart of “Tornado Alley,” known for significant tornado activity but did not crack the top 5 of tornadoes for 2018-2022
  • Oklahoma: Also central to Tornado Alley, experienced many powerful tornadoes with 66 between 2018 and 2022
  • Florida: Has a high frequency of tornadoes, partly due to hurricanes.
  • Nebraska: Another Tornado Alley state with a high number of tornadoes.
  • Iowa & Minnesota: Faces a considerable number of tornadoes each year.
  • Missouri: Regularly impacted by tornadoes across the state.
  • Alabama: There is a high frequency of tornadoes, especially in the spring and during fall, which is a secondary severe weather season.

*Note: map graphic includes tornados that crossed into states from other states.

Understanding the Threat of a Tornado

Tornadoes strike with little warning, bringing high winds, hail, and devastating damage to structures. 

The Enhanced Fujita Scale categorizes tornadoes from EF-0, indicating light damage, to EF-5, representing incredible damage with winds over 200 mph. Tornadoes devastate communities and businesses alike.

Due to their unpredictable nature, you must always take the threat of a tornado seriously.

There are three main types of tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service (NWS):

A Tornado Watch is issued when weather conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area. 

It doesn’t mean a tornado is imminent, but you should be prepared to act, as tornadoes could form. 

Watches are typically issued for larger areas covering multiple counties or states and last several hours.

A Tornado Warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. 

This means there is imminent danger to life and property to those in the tornado’s path. 

Warnings are more localized than watches, covering parts of counties, and are usually in effect for shorter periods, typically 30 to 60 minutes. When a warning is issued, immediate action to seek safe shelter is necessary.

You should know that tornado emergencies are rarely called. They are issued when there is reliable information about a violent tornado that is expected to impact a populated area, posing a significant threat to human life and catastrophic property damage. 

A Tornado Emergency signifies a situation more dire than a standard tornado warning, urging those in its path to take immediate life-saving actions.

What Business Risks Should I Prepare For?

Emergency preparedness is always the first step in protecting your business in case of a tornado.

First, assess your business’s risk for tornados. Think about it in two ways: the risks to the physical location of your business and the risks to operations, assets, employees, and customers.

And if you haven’t already, check your insurance to see what is and isn’t covered during a tornado.

While a tornado can and will hit any location if under the right conditions, there are locations more likely to get hit by one than others. Look at your location, check out the historical data, and try to understand the frequency of tornadoes at your location.

After that, evaluate the construction and design of your business premises. In areas where tornadoes are more prevalent, buildings should be constructed according to tornado-resistant standards, with reinforced walls and secure roofs.

Also, check for the presence of designated tornado shelters or safe rooms where customers and employees can go in case of an emergency.

You should create a detailed emergency plan that includes evacuation routes, emergency contacts, and a communication strategy to keep employees and customers informed before, during, and after a disaster.

Identify critical business operations that would be disrupted by a tornado, such as manufacturing processes, supply chain logistics, or customer services.

Assess the risk to digital infrastructure. Consider the security of data storage and backup solutions in the event of power loss or physical server damage.

There’s also the human element at play. Do you have safeguards to protect employees and customers during a tornado? Are they prepared with the knowledge and materials needed to protect themselves?

As a business owner, understanding and implementing changes to limit these risks helps prepare it for emergencies.

What Should be in My Business’s Tornado Emergency Kit?

You’ll need an emergency kit with food, water, first aid supplies, flashlights, and other essentials.

The LifeSecure WeatherTight Hard-Box Emergency 3-Day Survival Kit keeps all of your supplies water-tight with enough essentials to last one person 72 hours. This kit contains light sticks, face masks, food, water, and other medical necessities to keep yourself safe if you cannot leave your location.

For something a bit more mobile and flexible, the RollEvac Easy-Roll-Or-Carry Rolling Conversion Backpack All-Hazards 3-DAY Emergency Survival Kit is a portable emergency kit that works for both shelter-in-place and evacuations. Containing enough materials for 72 hours, this kit includes lights, materials to shut off utilities, food, water, and a bevy of medical products.

If you need to move quickly, the Bug-Out-Roller 3-DAY Emergency Evacuation Survival Cart lets you move and rest while waiting for help. It’s compact and comprehensive with 72 hours worth of emergency-grade supplies recommended by the U.S. Government and numerous other supplies for increased protection and comfort.

Need Help Protecting Your Business from Tornadoes? LifeSecure has Your Emergency Preparedness Needs Covered.

A proactive approach to emergency preparedness is essential for a business owner. LifeSecure dedicates ourselves to protecting what’s most important from unexpected emergencies.

Contact us and a member of our team will set you up with the right emergency preparedness kits for your business.


biography
David Scott
David co-founded LifeSecure in 2005, just a few months before Hurricane Katrina taught everyone that one can go hungry and thirsty in America and even die before help arrives. For over a decade David has focused on developing and discovering superior emergency and disaster survival solutions - kits and supplies. He has trained community groups in emergency preparedness, helped non-profit organizations prepare emergency kits for needy individuals, conducted community emergency response exercises, and developed emergency plans for non-profit organizations. David makes an ongoing study of how best to prepare for and respond to various natural and man-made disasters, and his mission has been to help others “live Life SECURE” every day by preparing for what may come someday.