Learning Center

Tornado Emergency Plan

Protect your employees and your business

If your business is located in an area with a heightened tornado risk, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) recommends the following steps.

Protect your employees

Keeping your employees safe is a top priority, so have a plan in place. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Prepare and disseminate emergency plans outlining actions to take and places where employees should seek refuge.
  • On a scheduled basis, conduct drills so your employees are prepared for weather emergencies.
  • Use a weather radio to monitor local conditions, and be prepared to notify employees when needed.
  • Ensure your employees seek shelter in protective areas.
    • Basements, as well as corridors and small interior rooms on the first floor are good locations.
    • Never shelter employees in rooms with outside walls or windows, or with ceiling or roof supports that are more than 40 feet apart.
    • If your building lacks adequate protection, work with a contractor to harden sections that could serve as shelter areas for employees, or build a safe room.
  • Take steps to shelter employees that work in vehicles or portable outbuildings.
  • Know the difference between tornado watches (high probability of tornadoes) and warnings (a tornado has been spotted, or radar indicates a high probability of a tornado).
  • Keep exterior doors and windows closed to minimize rain and flying debris.
  • Consider providing safe rooms meeting Federal Emergency Management Agency and International Code Council guidelines.

Protect your buildings

Take steps to minimize your business’ property damage in the event of severe weather and/or tornadoes. It could save you a bundle!

For new construction:

  • Work with architects or contractors to incorporate wind mitigation techniques and high wind-rated products.
  • Hardening buildings is less costly and more effective during design and construction.

For existing structures lacking wind-mitigation features, the IBHS suggests:

  • Consider retrofitting measures, especially when remodeling or replacing building components. Retrofitting may include:
    • Bracing and strapping the roof.
    • Making entry doors and overhead doors more wind-resistant.
    • Adding recommended fasteners and roof coverings when building components are modified or maintained.
    • Building a safe room.
  • Minimize threats from wind-borne debris by following these steps:
    • Remove trees and branches that could fall on building walls, the roof or power lines.
    • Inspect and repair loose or damaged building components.
    • Avoid using built-up roofs with aggregate or pavers on the surface.

Want to learn more? Visit the tornado risks section of the IBHS website.

Not sure if you’re in an area prone to tornadoes? The IBHS has identified regions with the highest risk (see map).

Tornado activity in the United States
©Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

These recommendations were developed using generally accepted safety standards. Compliance with these recommendations is not a guarantee that you will be in conformance with any building code, federal, state or local regulation regarding safety or fire. Compliance with these recommendations does not ensure the absolute safety of your occupation, business or residence. It is the property owner's duty to warn any tenants or occupants of the property of any safety hazards that may exist.

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