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Disaster Preparedness Planning

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Disaster Preparedness Planning

Category: Critical Thinking

Subcategory: Psychology

Level: College

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Disaster Preparedness Planning – Tornado

A tornado is usually a violent column of air that rotates violently from the bottom of a thunderstorm and extends to the ground. The intensity of a tornado is rated on the Fujita Scale, with F0 being the weakest, and F5 the strongest (Beach, 2010). They are strong enough to uproot trees, destroy well-built structures and hurl bits and pieces through the air like fatal missiles. Tornadoes can occur with little or no warning, paralyzing businesses and causing severe injuries to workers. Every workplace should have a comprehensive preparedness plan that ensures the safety of all workers in case a tornado or other extreme weather condition strikes.
Preparedness should be the continuous process involving planning, furnishing, training and exercising. For tornadoes, planning typically entails the identification of the safest place to take shelter, familiarization and monitoring of the local warning system and the establishment of procedures to account for every individual in the workplace. Workers may need to acquire additional resources and equipment specified in the plan, such as emergency supply kits. Further, employees should be coached, and plans should be exercised to make sure that all personnel is familiar with what is expected of them in the event of a tornado. An emergency action plan is the best way to prepare for a tornado. The plan should detail the best place to take shelter, ways of monitoring community tornado warning systems and how to account for all employees during the tornado.
Ensuring employee awareness is a crucial step in preparing for tornadoes. Conveying useful and actionable preparedness information to employees guarantees that they are equipped with information to help them through the tornado. Communication may take the form of periodical newsletters, talks from qualified people such as local emergency managers, flyers or mailing seasonal letters to employees and their kin (Beach, 2010).
Also, employees should be able to identify the signs of a tornado. They should monitor local weather stations for updates on potential tornado situations, make out tornado alarms and be familiar with the environmental signs associated with tornadoes. Such environmental signs include large hails, roaring noise, wall, funnel or dark, habitually greenish clouds or sky.
Identifying appropriate shelter locations
Employees should take shelter immediately they receive a tornado warning. All employees should gather at the designated shelter and a headcount conducted immediately. The most appropriate shelter in the event of a tornado should be underground, such as a storm cellar or basement. Should an underground area be unavailable, suitable alternatives may include a tiny interior room on the lowest floor of the building. In this case, employees should stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls. They should always stay at the center of the room and avoid all corners because they tend to attract debris. Rooms made of reinforced concrete, block or brick, with heavy concrete roofs and floors and without windows offer the best protection. Workers should avoid structures with flat, wide-span roofs. There should be sufficient emergency kits for all employees stored in the shelter. The kits should contain enough water, food, flashlight, extra batteries, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, whistle, dust mask, pliers or wrench, local maps, cell phone, manual can opener and moist towels, plastic bags and garbage bags (United States Department of Labor, n.d).
If employees are caught outdoors by a tornado, away from any designated shelter, they should find refuge in a sturdy building or basement. If it is not within a walking distance, they should drive to the nearest shelter, with their seatbelts properly fastened. Should the employees encounter flying debris while in the vehicle, they should either stay in the vehicle, keeping their seatbelts on and their heads below the windows and covered with their hands or blanket, or go to a noticeable area, preferably lower than the highway, lie there and cover their heads with their hands (United States Department of Labor, n.d).
There should be a working system of knowing the number of people in the workplace at all times. Every person entering the building, workers, customers or visitors, should be recorded electronically. This record should be available in the designated shelter in real-time. A system should be designed to transmit the records to the shelter and print them when a tornado warning is raised to prevent data loss in case of a power outage. Additionally, an alarm system should be installed. The alarm should be unique, such that when workers hear it, they should know that it is a tornado warning, and it should be tested regularly. Visual alarms may used for people with hearing disabilities.
All workers, customers, and visitors should be accounted for as they get into the shelter. The real-time data of the people in the building should be used as a checklist. A headcount should also be conducted immediately. Specific duties should be assigned to workers in advance to avoid confusion and delays. A checklist for each task should also be created. More importantly, workers alternates should be designated and trained in the event that the assigned person is absent or injured. It is important that regular drills are conducted, simulating the actual tornado situation. This ensures that employees get a hands-on experience on what to when a real tornado occurs.
The Aftermath
Injuries may occur after a tornado. Employees should also be well versed with the possible perils associated with the aftermath of a tornado. These include sharp objects, falls from heights, electrical hazards due to fallen power lines, heat, dehydration, blocked or slippery roads, fling and falling objects, exhaustion, and burns. There is a possibility of a second occurring shortly after the first. Weather alerts should be continuously monitored for emergency information (United States Department of Labor, n.d).

Beach, M. (2010). Disaster preparedness and management. Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Co.
United States Department of Labor. (n.d). Tornado Preparedness and Response – Preparedness. Retrieved July 5, 2015, from https://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/tornado/preparedness.html#planning

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