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It’s severe weather season, and if you’re like us and live smack dab in the middle of “Tornado Alley” (or anywhere else where funnel clouds just seem to routinely drop from the sky), you probably think a lot about how to keep yourself, and those you care about, safe.

At home, we all know that when the tornado siren sounds, or when the weatherman says so, we need to either head to a shelter, or make our way to the lowest level of the house and find a small, centrally located room—preferably one with few or no windows.

But what about when you’re at work? Or worse yet, on a jobsite? 

To give you some answers and help you plan ahead in case you ever do find yourself in the path of an oncoming tornado, we’ve compiled the following potentially life-saving information and safety procedures.

First thing’s first - Is a SiteBox Storage Container or Mobile Office a Storm Shelter? 

You might think that since our parent company, RedGuard, produces buildings that are blast-resistant, ballistic-resistant, and resistant to forced entry that the rugged mobile offices and portable storage units at SiteBox would be a safe place to go during a tornado.

You’d be wrong.

To be perfectly clear, mobile offices and portable storage units—no matter who manufactures them—are not where you want to find yourself during a tornado. Most of the time, they are not anchored down the way that a proper tornado shelter would be and they haven't passed the rigorous testing to be safely certified as a shelter. So, unless you've gone to great lengths to secure the mobile office or storage container, make a plan to get to a shelter. 

Where should you go during a tornado?

If a tornado is coming your way, it’s crucial that you get to shelter as quickly as possible. If the building you’re in is a permanent structure, it’s important to know if any of the rooms have been designed as storm shelters, or if storm shelters are available in the area.

If that happens to be somewhere on your jobsite, great. If not, you need to get into a car and drive to a community shelter.

Again, it’s important to note that we’re not telling you to try to outrun a tornado—the goal here is to simply get to the place that will provide you with the best protection, as quickly as possible.

If the tornado is too close and you simply don’t have time to get to a permanent structure or shelter, you need to find a low-lying area such as a ditch or a ravine and lie down, covering your head with your hands. 

But hopefully, it never comes to that.

How to plan for a tornado

Stay informed of local weather forecasts and know the difference between a tornado watch and a warning.

Since tornados can strike with little or no warning, it is important to stay informed when the weather starts to change. You can plan ahead to avoid making a life-or-death decision about where you’ll go and what you’ll do in the time you have available.

So, in the calm before the storm, go ahead and identify your nearest shelter and ensure that your team knows where it is and how they can get there as quickly and as safely as possible. While you’re at it, make sure your mobile office or portable storage unit is equipped with flashlights and a battery-operated radio, so you’re not left in the dark (both literally and figuratively) in the case of a power outage or when it’s time to head to shelter. Be prepared with a storm safety kit and take your mobile phone with you when you shelter. And, make sure you're certain you know when it's time to come out of the tornado shelter.

What do you do when you don’t have a place to shelter at work? Well, if you're the owner or manager, we recommend purchasing your very own on-site shelter. 

There are several makes and models on the market; in fact, RedGuard, the parent company of SiteBox Shelters, also owns Survive-A-Storm Shelters, the leading tornado shelter manufacturer in the US.

The company has residential shelters, as well as commercial and community tornado shelters. These shelters can provide a safe haven for small groups up to 4 adults, or larger modules that provide refuge for hundreds of occupants. Some shelters are modular, so companies can employ a series of smaller spread-out shelters (for example, across a campus), or they can be connected to create a substantial tornado shelter that can protect 1,500 people in a large company or a community. These shelters are built to withstand even the strongest rated EF5 tornados (260-318 mph winds), they are tested at the Texas Tech Wind Institute, and they are certified through the National Storm Shelter Association. There is no substitute for that kind of tornado safety.

Having a Workplace Tornado Shelter is the way to go

Not to sound like a broken record, but if you take one thing from this blog post, let it be the fact that having an actual storm shelter available for you and your staff during working hours is the most important thing you can do. Mobile offices or portable storage units are rugged, but they are not tornado shelters. That said, please take the time now to find out if your workplace has a proper storm shelter and a plan for how you and your staff will get there. If you are interested in learning more about Survive-A-Storm Shelters, visit them online, or call 888-360-1492.

Above all else, our company believes in safety. We'll go back to talking about portable container storage and mobile offices, but wanted to take this moment to talk about a subject that we believe in. For more information about our mobile offices or portable storage units available through SiteBox Storage, contact us to get a quote today.