Severe Weather Safety for Business Travelers

April 10, 1979 is a day the Home Warrior’s parents will never forget.  On this day an F4 tornado ripped through his 5-14-15-1hometown of Wichita Falls, Texas and his parents were directly in its path.  Just before the tornado hit the Home Warrior’s father looked outside and saw a lady frantically looking for shelter.  He ran outside, grabbed the woman’s hand, and brought her in the house.  The Home Warrior’s parents, their newborn child, and the lady off the street all took cover in a small closet near the center of the house. Their house took a direct hit to the tornado. Miraculously they all survived with no major injuries.  After the tornado passed they arose to see the damage to their house.  There was nothing left.  The house was literally ripped off the foundation.  Only splintered wood and debris surrounded them.  The tornado left a horrendous path of destruction and the base of the tornado was an incredible one mile wide.  42 people lost their life from this tornado.  It’s because of this story that the Home Warrior takes no chances when it comes to storms, and always has a plan for if the worst happens.

Now that spring time has arrived the storm season is upon us.  When traveling for business a lot of unexpected things happen.  Weather is usually at or near the top of the list of the unexpected.  And like what happened to the Home Warrior’s parents, one of those unexpected weather events is a tornado.  A tornado can happen anywhere and when you’re on a work trip oftentimes you are on the road or in a building that you are unfamiliar with.  Here are tips to get to safety from a tornado, regardless if you are in an office building or on the road (courtesy of Ready.gov).

Office Building.  In the south it’s quite common for a business to have rooms that have a label on the outside that says severe weather area.  One of my regular business partners has rooms labeled like this, and you can even find these signs at DFW Airport.  However, when there’s not a designated spot for severe weather there are still better places to go than others.  If there’s a basement in the building try to get there.  If not, get to the lowest level of the building.  From there go find an interior room, bathroom, hallway, or stairwell (not an elevator because power may go out leaving you stranded).  Stay away from windows and glass walls.  Once you are in your safe room crouch face down and cover your head.

Driving.  If you are on a business trip make it a habit to check local weather or listen to NOAA Weather Radio before you drive somewhere.  It may be sunny with blue skies, but that doesn’t mean severe weather isn’t possible.  Listen to what the local meteorologist are saying and plan accordingly. If they are saying not to drive then take their advice and make other plans with your business partner.  There’s no point in putting your safety at risk!  However, sometimes storms pop up out of nowhere.  If you are driving and spot a tornado, it’s first recommended to find a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter to go in (if there’s time).  If while driving to the nearest shelter your vehicle is hit by flying debris, pull over, park and do one of the following based on what makes the most sense in your current situation.

  • Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Put the seat belt on and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.

OR

  • Lie in an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.

Again, a nearby sturdy structure is best, but if there’s no time these are your next best options.  Hopefully none of you have to encounter a tornado, but if you do these tips could save your life.  Watch this quick video for a visual on tornado safety.    

Readers, have any of you been caught in some crazy weather and had to take shelter while traveling for business? 

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Comments

  1. One thing to mention – people that haven’t grown up in Tornado Alley don’t know the signs of bad weather. It’s one thing to read about it, another to actually see it and go uh-oh! Many newbies will look right at the bad weather and not realize the danger that they are in. Another thing people don’t understand is that a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is also an alert for smaller tornados (F0-F2). Even though these tornados are smaller, you’ll still be hurting if you take a direct hit. Seek shelter in an interior room if you get a severe thunderstorm warning for your area.

    There are several smart phone apps for bad weather. Red Cross has a free one called Tornado. You can program in the location where you are at and get alerts for the area. I have an app called Weather Alerts that actually does dynamic tracking by location (great for car trips).

    The NOAA Storm Prediction Center has a nice FAQ that I like:
    http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/#Safety
    And for what it’s worth, you can get storm predictions a week out at the SPC site:
    http://www.spc.noaa.gov/

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