It’s that time of the year again… dodging tornadoes, that is. Unfortunately, many people are already doing just that, so, it’s tornado preparedness 101 time.
So, where do you start?
As with any threat, developing a plan is key. A plan is not only about how you will react to [insert threat here] but what you can or will do to mitigate the effects. In addition, you will want to detail the actions as well as the equipment and supplies that you might need to properly recover from the threat. You can do this analysis yourself or consider utilizing the reThinkIt! Preparedness Tools Excel file to aid with that endeavor.
An Obvious Necessity: Knowledge
There’s a reason why the and government spend tons of money on information-related technologies and resources… it pays to know what you need to know sooner rather than later!
The Basic Understanding You Should Have
You should know when tornadoes are most likely to occur. This varies depending on your geographic location, but according to the NOAA:
“Tornado season usually refers to the time of year where the U.S. sees the most tornadoes. The peak “tornado season” for the southern plains — often referred to as Tornado Alley — is during May into early June. On the Gulf coast, it is earlier during the spring. In the northern plains and upper Midwest, tornado season is in June or July. But, remember, tornadoes can happen at any time of year. Tornadoes can also happen at any time of day, but most tornadoes occur between 4-9 p.m.”
Communications are Key
With respect to a tornado (or most any natural disaster, for that matter) is your family’s need to know about such a threat as soon as possible. A basic NOAA weather radio such as the Midland WR120 will do, but I prefer an upgraded radio (the Midland WR300) because of the ability to choose precisely what alerts you want to be notified about. You can read my review of the original Midland WR100 Weather Radio here (precursor to the Midland WR120 referenced above) that I used originally.
Locate the Safest Place to Hide at Home
Certainly, you and your family should choose the safest place in your home. You can read plenty of info here (scroll down to the Tornado heading) regarding tornado preparedness;suffice it to say, the lowest place in your house (such as a basement or the lowest floor) is best. You should also get as close to the inside of your house as possible, away from windows or flying debris, and try to cover your bodies (especially your head) with anything that can cushion a significant blow.
Sometimes homes are built with safe rooms designed to resist the destruction caused by tornadoes and other storms. Certainly, this is the place to be in such an event. If you don’t have a safe room built already, you can find several plans here. Of course, there is a significant cost involved.
Protect Your Head First
Considering that head trauma is the biggest immediate concern, I would have a plan in place to protect your head as much as possible. For instance, if your children ride bicycles then it may be that they also wear bicycle helmets. Well, these could come in handy to help with protecting their heads from such trauma. Or, perhaps you have a hard had, baseball batter’s cap, or whatever. Think about what you have that can protect your heads, especially for your children.
Whistle for Help!
It’s also important to have some ability to alert rescuers to your whereabouts should you survive but your house has collapsed. A simple pea-less whistle such as the Rescue Howler is recommended. If possible, keep a whistle or two in the location where you intend to seek shelter and ensure all family members know where the whistles are and what they are to be used for.
You should also ask yourself what you will do if a tornado strikes while you’re at work. I would suspect that your employer already has a plan in place. If not, request one or even aid with designing one. I would assume that your children’s school has a plan in place but it can’t hurt to ask. You might even want to consider what you will do if you’re out driving.
One last point to consider is what would happen if a tornado struck your home and everything you owned was destroyed beyond being salvaged? This is a good reason to keep at least some basic supplies (e.g., clothes, money, contact information, etc) at a trusted friend or relative’s house that is relatively close but probably not next door.
So, what are your thoughts?