Tornado and Hazardous Weather Preparedness

This spring we have seen some very dangerous weather come through most areas of the country. Tornados,  severe thunderstorms with damaging winds, hail and flooding have affected numerous communities.  How prepared are your staff and your organization in preparing for these violent events?  Your organization may well have a detailed emergency management plan for the response after the tornado/severe storm passes but does your staff know what to do if alerted there is a tornado or severe storm approaching?  Are they familiar with what to do in the moments around when the unimaginable happens? For example:

  • Do staff members know where there is safe shelter within the facility?
  • Where are there danger areas that may have large glass panels, exposure to the wind and flying debris?
  • What is your process for moving patients to safe shelter?
  • When do you move patients? During tornado watches?  During tornado warnings?
  • Do you need to move equipment? Where?
  • How do you ensure safety of isolation patients or those who may not be able to relocate in a safe stairwell or other shelter?
  • How do you help visitors and vendors?
  • How do you notify people outside of your building to seek shelter?
  • Are you prepared with emergency and portable lighting?
  • How will your surgical suites and procedural areas respond?

Most organizations ensure their staff can speak to fire response but tornados/severe storms can bring equal devastation to a healthcare facility.  Unfortunately, our observations are that staff often struggle with how they would respond when severe weather hits.  Additionally, the guidance they may have on their units is not specific to actions they must take such as evacuating patients to safe locations.

We recommend that you dust off your emergency plan for tornados and severe weather and test your frontline staff on their responsibilities immediately before, during and after the event.  Reinforce their knowledge and skills during your huddles and team meetings over the next month to ensure they are ready to respond.  You may consider conducting response drills to reinforce preparation and evacuation procedures as well.

Please contact us for questions or more information at  704-573-4535 or

Courtemanche & Associates specializes in Healthcare Accreditation and Regulatory Compliance Consulting Services. With over 30 years of being in business and 100+ years of healthcare experience amongst our consulting team, we are ready to assist with your accreditation and regulatory compliance needs.

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