Schools and businesses located in areas that experience natural disasters are advised (and, in some cases, required) to have areas where students, employees, and guests can seek shelter in the event of trouble. Whether you are located in an area prone to severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes, it is important that you have shelter signs in place to communicate this information to everyone on the premises. If you have been designated as an official shelter for the community, you need to have signage that points this out as well. And if you are a business that deals with toxic chemicals and other contaminates, you may need special shelter signs to be in compliance with local and federal regulations.

Severe Weather and Natural Disasters

For businesses and schools located in Florida and along the Gulf Coast, hurricane preparedness is a way of life. Not all hurricanes come with an evacuation mandate, so it’s important for you to provide shelter signs to your employees and guests so they know where to go if the storm takes a sudden last-minute turn. While communities often have days of warning when it comes to hurricanes, the same cannot be said for tornadoes and other forms of severe weather, many of which can come out of nowhere. Shelter signs are particularly important in these instances.

Designated Shelters

In California, Florida, and throughout the middle sections of the country, cities will designate certain schools, businesses, and organizations as special shelters in case of a major disaster. These shelters are used to house people who have been evacuated, give people a place to stay if they lose their homes to the disaster, and provide solace and comfort for anyone displaced by the tragedy. Ordinarily, these designated shelters will be rated to withstand the high winds produced by hurricanes and tornadoes or the destructive impact of a devastating earthquake. If your facility has been so designated, place shelter signs in a conspicuous area so evacuees know they’re at the right place.

The Flip Side

On the other hand, you may wish to put up shelter signs that convey the opposite message: That your facility has NOT been rated as an effective shelter. This message can be just as important as the other one; you don’t want people to mistakenly believe that your building can shield them from disaster. This may not be so important for your average small business, but larger buildings can convey a false sense of security during times of catastrophe.

Toxic Chemicals

Factories, laboratories, hospitals, and even some construction sites must put up shelter signs if they are working with toxic chemicals that could contaminate the atmosphere in the event of an accident. The law often requires that these facilities have special emergency shelters on site where employees and guests can find safety if there is an explosion, a leak, or a spill on the premises. Put shelter signs up in highly-visible areas so there is no confusion about where people should go when the alarm sounds.