Editor's Note: Getting serious about tornado safety
One early evening quite a few summers ago, I was at my desk at the National Safety Council and occasionally glancing out my office window as storm clouds rolled in and the sky grew more and more ominous-looking. Minutes later, a PA announcement stated that a tornado warning had been issued and all employees should proceed to one of the building’s designated safe areas.
Those of us who were still in the building headed for a first-floor hallway, and I remember grumbling to myself, “If I had left work 20 minutes ago, I could be at home already.”
After a half-hour or so, the all-clear sounded and I went upstairs to collect my workbag and head home. Driving out of the business park, I was completely taken aback to see a huge downed tree blocking three-quarters of the four-lane road, and all streets in the area littered with debris. It was a sobering reminder that if I had ignored the warning, chances are good I would have driven directly into a dangerous storm.
Convincing people to take weather watches and warnings seriously is a challenge. Many of us live in areas of the country where tornado watches are common, and all of us live in the smartphone age, in which people are tempted to disregard safety in an effort to capture memorable photos or videos.
As in my case, employers can help employees make the right choice. In his article this month, Associate Editor Alan Ferguson speaks with experts about why having a thorough emergency plan in place can help prevent injuries – and deaths – should a tornado strike.
The perimeter of the NSC parking lot is piled high with snow as I write this. But spring – one of the seasons in which tornadoes are most common – is only a month away. Be safe.