Maintaining and operating a tornado safe room is imperative to a company’s survival because its most valuable resource is its workforce. If a company allows even one employee to leave the building, the ability to continue for business as usual is lost. And when that employee returns to work, they are not trained to handle the destructive forces. Training for employees helps them recognize the need to evacuate the building in a tornado warning.
All companies should have a customized tornado safe room available for employees during inclement weather. Customized safe spaces help alleviate the stress of employees dealing with severe weather conditions. They also give them a sense of assurance in knowing their place of work is protected from the perils of tornadoes. In addition, having a customized tornado safe room reduces the risk of injury to all employees. This is especially true during inclement weather because most employers cannot afford to lose any more employees.
A customized tornado safe room typically consists of a sturdy building surrounded by a reinforced steel perimeter. Such a structure would provide shelter from strong winds, rains, hail, and large objects typically found in the path of a tornado. In addition, the design should include amenities such as lighting, ventilation, and telephone and alarm systems. Finally, the structure should be constructed with steps leading up to the shelter so that the inside can access it quickly in case of an emergency.
To ensure that workers in the field do not become trapped when pursuing tornado reports, there should be a well-constructed system for sending and receiving information. Most tornado safe rooms should contain multiple, tightly-knit communication systems such as radios. Some organizations have taken the extra step of including an emergency communication system with indoor and outdoor signs. Such a system should provide voice communications to all field personnel and emergency vehicles.
Most tornado safe rooms will also feature emergency food rations to meet the needs of field workers and their family members during storm emergencies. These supplies should be replenished regularly. When deciding whether or not to use storm shelters, the best approach is to determine what type of structure will be most appropriate for the area being covered. There are storm shelters available in all sizes and shapes, and there is a type suited to every situation.
The interior room of a safe space is most often the primary area of protection. It is usually constructed as a horizontal box and is built with additional support structures at the corners to provide extra support and stability. The walls should be reinforced concrete and reinforced with steel ribs. There should be a shaft that extends from the center of the building and runs downward. This shaft is where structural support beams are attached and run through the entire perimeter of the building. The roof of the safe room typically consists of metal girders to which ladders are affixed.
When selecting a location for a safe room, the interior must be shielded from any severe weather while still providing access to the outside world. This usually means that a slight gradient separates the interior, and the floor has steps leading in and out of the structure. This level of separation will make it difficult for winds to enter and exit the system.
A solid and sturdy building is preferred in an underground shelter. The interior walls should be constructed from beams of at least three feet, and the roof should have multiple levels. If possible, an external stairway should be built to connect the two interior floors. This exterior stairway will allow occupants to evacuate safely in the event of a severe weather outbreak.