How to Protect Your Business from Tornadoes

  • Jul 05, 2018

All About Tornadoes 

Each year, nearly 1,000 tornadoes touch down in the United States. Tornadoes are some of the deadliest and costliest severe weather events. In 2017, there were 17 billion dollar weather events and natural disasters. Of those, 5 events included tornadoes.

In January, southern tornado outbreaks and western storms caused over $1.1 billion in damages. This was one of the largest tornado outbreaks for any winter month, outpacing a previous record set in the 1950s. These storms killed 24 people.

A tornado outbreak at the end of February caused over $1.8 billion in damage and killed 6 in the central/southeast areas of the country. An impressive 70 tornadoes ripped through the central and southern states, in what was the most severe weather outbreak ever to occur over 48 hours.

Later in March, another tornado outbreak occurred in the Midwest. This 2-day storm caused power outages for nearly one million people in Michigan and impacted folks in 11 states. These tornadoes caused $2.2 billion in damages.

In June, severe weather in the Midwest brought over a dozen tornadoes to parts of Iowa. In just two days, these storms caused $1.4 billion in damage. These same storms caused $1.5 billion in damages across 10 other states in the Midwest.

Southwestern storms in March 2018 also brought tornadoes. Three people died because of a potent severe storm system across Alabama. We detected over 20 tornadoes as this system spread from Texas to Florida. Keep an eye on this year’s billion dollar weather events and research past ones on NOAA’s website.

Tornadoes and Your Business

Tornadoes are scary, costly, and deadly. While you may worry about them only from a personal point of view, businesses are also at risk. If you’re not preparing your business for tornadoes, you’re missing an opportunity to consider ways to make your business more resilient. Keep reading to learn how to mitigate tornado risks at your business and stay safe this severe weather season.

1. Plan 

The first thing you can do is have a plan in place before tornadoes become a risk. There should be a place in your business continuity plan for tornadoes and other forms of severe weather. At the least, make sure you know the following before the National Weather Service issues a tornado watch or warning in your area.

  • If your area is in a tornado-prone region
  • The safest areas in a building so employees know where to congregate in the event of a warning
  • Roles and responsibilities of supervisors and employees, including the appointment of a tornado warden

 

It’s also important that you conduct frequent tornado drills so employees are ready if there is a real emergency. Post signs to direct customers and visitors to safe areas. With severe weather safety, preparation is everything. If you’re not ready for dangerous weather, it’s harder to protect yourself and your business.

2. Have Proper Insurance

Protect yourself with tornado insurance. Most property insurance policies provide insurance protection for tornado damage for business property. You want a policy that covers costs to remove, clean up, and dispose of debris after a tornado.

Besides the physical aspects of tornado damage, it’s also best to have a plan that covers the time you couldn’t operate. Look for time element coverage which covers lost business profits and the additional expenses to keep a business running while you’re restoring or replacing insured property. This part of coverage is key, especially in situations where your business doesn’t have physical damage. Why? The tornadoes could have damaged your business partners or power outages may render you unable to work.

3. Minimize Property Damage

The next way to protect your business from tornadoes to is to minimize your property damage. While there aren’t any ways to stop a tornado, you can take these steps to cut down on the damage.

  • Secure outdoor gear to prevent them from becoming airborne
  • Reinforce vulnerable areas of your building(s)
  • Move vital equipment like servers to protected areas of a building

 

4. Maintain Business Continuity

A lot of organizations overlook maintain business continuity during severe weather. This is one of the costliest mistakes you can make. Tornadoes can be costly even when damage doesn’t occur on your property. Power outages can render your company helpless for days or even weeks. Our recent State of Business Continuity Survey found that over 57% of business continuity professionals believe planning for inclement weather, like tornadoes, will be an increasing part of the Business Continuity plan in 2018. You get can the entire report by clicking the image below.

Get the Business Continuity Ebook

If you don’t already have a section of your business continuity plan dedicated to tornadoes and other natural disasters draft one up immediately. Make sure this plan includes:

  • How employees will communicate
  • Where employees will work
  • How manufacturing and other critical business operations will continue
  • Plans for data and information technology restoration
  • How you’ll maintain supply chain logistics

5. Monitor Severe Weather

Part of short-term tornado planning is accessing hyperlocal weather data in real time. Paying attention to storm cells and total lightning detection gives your business greater lead times to prepare for tornadoes. If you don’t have the resources to dedicate this job to someone internally, it might also be a good idea to hire an expert meteorologist to help you identify cells that could create tornadoes so you can put your plan into action as soon as possible.

Act Quickly

Preparing for tornadoes and other forms of severe weather requires decision-makers at your company to act quickly and knowledgeably. Severe weather visualization and alerting tools can help with that effort. How do you know when to spring your severe weather plan into action? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.

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