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Storm Aware at Work

>>AMY SUSAN: More than half of all tornadoes touch down during prime work hours between 3 and 7 p.m. Hi. I'm Amy Susan, Director of Communications for the Missouri Department of Labor. And as part of the state's Severe Weather Awareness Week, we're going to tell you how to be storm aware at work.

>>JIM KRAMPER: Here at the Employment Security Building at the Department of Labor, there are about 800 people working on any given day.

>>FERNANDO MENDEZ: Anybody that has a large number of people in one building, they need to have a plan. They need to be able to get weather information. They need to know when there all warnings out there and if, potentially, they are in the path. They have to have a plan to keep their employees safe.

>>JIM: And Labor Safety Coordinator, Fernando Mendez, says planning ahead of time does save lives.

>>FERNANDO: Basically, what you need to do is kind of make an assessment of--of your building; how many people are there; where are they located and find out, within the building, where they can safely be sheltered inside the building in case there is a tornado or inclement weather.

>>JIM: Each work place is unique and requires a custom-designed plan tailored to work for that specific building and their employees.

>>FERNANDO: Stairwells, for instance, the stairwells here are in the center of the building. That's a very, very good place. They're fortified; they're in the middle of the building, you're surrounded by walls.

>>JIM: And the last place workers should be is near a window.

>>FERNANDO: The glass here would be shattered and you'd have wind, you know, going through this area right here.

>>JIM: The severe weather plan for the work place should also include assigned personnel for each area of the building so that people know who to turn to for guidance.  Most importantly, they should know where to go.

>>FERNANDO: It’s often good to tell employees, you know, visually, where they need to go to and what the area encompasses.

>>JIM: And if the building does not have a basement, employees should head to the lowest level of the building and find a closet or fortified room in the core of the building.

>>FERNANDO: Maybe in the freezer, you know, as long as you can get out of the freezer.

>>JIM: But for those already out when the storm strikes, the plan of action is different.

>>FERNANDO: If you're driving to or from work or somewhere and you hear a tornado siren or you get a radio notification that something is coming in your vicinity, if you have time, quickly drive to some place that you think can provide actual physical shelter. If you're no where close anything that you can see, I would suggest that you park your car somewhere the side of the road and find some low area that you can basically just lay down. I--that's--I think that's about the best you can do in such a situation.

>>JIM: Overall the best way to prepare staff for such an event is to put the plan to the test.

OVERCOM: Attention in the building severe weather tornado warning is now in effect. Go to your shelter areas.

>>FERNANDO: If people move smoothly and rapidly, ideally 10 minutes for the whole drill, within 2 or 3 minutes people are in place.

>>JIM: Conducting drills once or twice a year and making first aid training available to staff should also be considered when developing your severe weather plan. So that you can be storm aware at work.

>>FERNANDO: Attention, attention. Everyone in the building, the tornado drill is over. You may go back to work.