Prepare for Tornado Season

May in the Midwest means severe weather and tornadoes. Since we work outside during this time of year, we have to be especially aware of what’s happening weather-wise, since tornadoes can appear suddenly if the conditions are right.

Tornadoes are deadly not only because they can lift and drop you hundreds of feet, they can knock over houses and uproot trees, as well as hurl debris like missiles. Broken glass, lawn furniture, and tree trimming equipment can all be deadly if they’re caught in a tornado. So it’s important to not just keep your equipment safe, but to put yourself in a safe place as well.

Here are the things you need to do before, during, and after a tornado, straight line winds, or other severe weather.


  1. Photo of a tornado taken in central Oklahoma. Photo by Daphne Zaras, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio during any storm to stay informed about watches and warnings.
  2. Know your community’s warning systems. Different communities have different warning systems, such as sirens, and the one you’re working may be different from where you live. Most warnings are tested at noon on Fridays, so pay particular attention and remember that sound.
  3. Pick a safe room in your home where people and pets can gather during a tornado. This should be a basement or cellar, or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. Make sure your family knows and even practices what to do during tornado watches and warnings.
  4. Stow all tools and secure all equipment when directed by your foreman or supervisor. Make sure everything is packed away so nothing is left loose or unsecured.
  5. Watch for tornado danger signs, including dark, often greenish clouds; a wall cloud (isolated lowering of the thunderstorm); a cloud of debris; a roaring noise, like a train; and a funnel cloud appearing and trying to form.


  1. If you do not have a safe room in your house, or live in a mobile home, go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter immediately.
  2. If you’re out on a job site, immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seatbelt, and drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
  3. Heed any tornado warnings on your local newscast or NOAA radio. Do not wait until you see a tornado. By then it’s too late.
If flying debris occurs while you’re driving, pull over and park, and then do one of the following as a last resort:
  • Stay in the car with the seat belt on, and lower your head below the windows. Cover your head with your hands or a blanket or jacket.
  • If you can get lower than the level of the roadway, such as in a ditch, leave the vehicle and lie down. Cover your head with your hands, blanket, or jacket.


  1. If you’re away from home, return only when authorities say it’s safe to do so.
  2. Check for downed power lines and broken gas lines in the area.
  3. Stay out of damaged buildings. They could collapse.
  4. If you’re in your home checking for damage, use only battery-powered flashlights, not candles, in case of gas leaks.
  5. Check to see if anyone is injured. If you’re trained in first aid, provide it until first responders arrive.
  6. Use your phone only for emergencies. Tying up cell towers with non-emergency calls makes it harder for people to make emergency calls.
As the weather gets warmer this spring, we’re in for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared. Check the weather each day before you start work so you can have an idea of what to expect. And always remember to practice safety first when dealing with any kind of inclement weather.

Photo credit: Daphne Zaras (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)  
Posted: 4/11/2018 1:00:00 PM by