Tornadoes are easier to prepare for these days than in the past. Back in the day, all we had to go on was the way the clouds looked. Now, we have emergency warning systems that are capable of notifying us of a serious storm many minutes, if not several hours, in advance. However, once the storm hits, and if the power goes out, you cannot watch the tracking of the storm on television or listen to it on the radio (unless you have a battery powered weather radio, that is). But even with advanced warning, what can be done to prepare for a tornado?
Find Your Safe Place
OK Storm Shelters outlines the criteria for a good safe room:
“The safest spot in person’s home is typically in the basement or storm cellar. For individuals that don’t have a basement, the most interior bathroom is a good place to go. An inner hallway, closet or inner room which doesn’t contain windows, are decent alternatives. The center of the room is the safest part of a room. Individuals should do their best to stay away from corners and windows. When they are able to, they should hide under furniture that is sturdy.
What if you do not have a suitable location within your home? Where will you go when the sirens sound? If you have the resources, having a storm shelter installed in your yard is a great way to go. If not, then perhaps your safe spot is the nearest public storm shelter in a community building or a school. It is very important that you know where it is and how you will get there.
What You Need in Your Safe Place
Consider the immediate needs of your family, which clearly is safety during the storm. You may need some blankets or pillows in your tornado safe room to protect you from shattering glass, or even just for comfort. Children, especially, will benefit from their special comfort item. If possible, keep these items IN your safe place. Have a favorite book, perhaps a rather long chapter book, that your family enjoys as a read-aloud. Perhaps some crayons and a coloring book is soothing for your child. It helps if the ‘storm toy’ is different than their usual toys. This makes it special, which will give it more staying power. A snack might be a good idea, but keep in mind that if you are going to a public shelter, you won’t have enough to share. Electronic devices with a game that is reserved for special occasions might help your children be distracted from the stress of a bad storm.
What Should You Take To A Storm Shelter?
Clearly, your emergency preparation in this case will have to be immediately accessible and portable. The best option is to have an emergency kit, stored in a specific place, that you can grab on your way out the door. These can also be assembled yourself by accumulating the various components. Shelf Reliance has an online planner to help you decide what you need in your kit for your family. A back pack – one for each member of the household, or one or two that contains everything for everybody – is a very convenient way to carry your emergency kit. Shelf Reliance, as well as other companies, sell pre-assembled emergency kits.
What Will You Need Immediately After the Storm?
Whether you go to a safe house, or your safe place is at home, consider what you will need after the storm. The power will likely be out, so keep flashlights with WORKING batteries in your safe room. Have the phone numbers of the your insurance adjuster and utilities in your safe room. Perhaps they could be taped to the inside of a bathroom cabinet. Certainly a notebook with important information should be included in a portable emergency kit.
Also have a telephone that doesn’t require electricity to operate, so that you will be able to make the necessary phone calls right away. If you are able to remain at home, but the electricity is out, you will need some food and water. It generally takes 72 hours before assistance is able to get to affected areas.
You can assemble three days worth of separate components, such as freeze-dried food, water, and toiletries. Determine how much you will need for each member of your household. You will want some light and a way to potty as pleasantly as possible.
Now a word about insurance. Please carefully go over your homeowner’s insurance policy with your agent to know what you have. Do not rely on your understanding of the policy itself; get the agent to go over it with you detail by detail. As always, prepare for the worst. Our insurance includes emergency cash to get us to a hotel ASAP with food and clothing. (In the event of a major natural disaster, that ASAP might be longer than is convenient – hence the 3-day kits.)
Our homeowner’s insurance will pay our hotel bill until we find a rental, and then pay the rent up to a year. We will still be paying our mortgage payment, but we will not have to make double payments. We have full-coverage replacement value on our house as well as the contents of the house. Know what you have so that you can know what to expect.
Tornadoes are frightening. They are unpredictable and powerful. They are dangerous. The only thing we can do is to prepare ourselves for the worst. By being prepared, we can keep our family as safe as possible, and have peace of mind.