The warmer spring temperatures are welcomed by most but bring with them an increased likelihood of severe weather, including tornadoes and other storms.

It’s important to understand the differences between weather warning terms, and to have a response plan in place in the event of severe weather.

Here are 3 tips from Blake Heinzenroth, Manager of Security and Compliance at Practice Velocity, for implementing severe weather preparedness at your urgent care center.

  1. Understand Watch vs. Warning
  • A tornado watch is issued when conditions are favorable for the formation of this type of storm. A tornado watch means that the atmosphere has all of the ingredients it needs to make and produce a tornado. It does not mean imminent storms are on the way, or that a storm has been sighted on the ground. When a tornado watch is issued, you need to do just that: watch the weather. Know where a safe shelter is, and be prepared to act quickly in case a warning is issued.  It is also a good idea to ensure your cell-phone is charged.
  • A tornado warning is issued when a storm is approaching your area. You must take shelter—fast. Tornado warnings are issued when the National Weather Service indicates a storm with strong rotation on Doppler radar, or if there is confirmation that a tornado is on the ground.  If you are in the tornado’s path, you must immediately drop whatever you are doing and proceed to a safe spot.  Do not look for the tornado or attempt to record it, immediately evacuate to designated shelter or gathering location.
  1. Make a Plan
  • Take some time to think about where you, your staff, and your patients should evacuate to in a weather emergency. The ideal spot is an interior room in the building away from windows. Try to put as much building between you and the storm.  The restrooms, the inner offices and conference rooms without windows, the interior copy rooms, etc. all would be appropriate places to gather during a strong storm.
  1. Learn, Distribute, and Practice the Plan
  • Take some time to familiarize yourself with your worksite’s tornado plan, some of the weather-related terms, and the importance of having and practicing your plan at work and at home. Conduct regular drills with staff to make sure everyone knows where to go.