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Tornado Season usually comes with Spring in our area. We’re warned as the spring thunderstorms come, so do the tornadoes. And while it’s true that the ‘season’ is usually in the spring/early summer, the fact that twisters can happen year round actually make this a severe weather threat all year long.
Instead of sharing a whole bunch of tornado facts , let’s get down to what YOU can do for your family to prepare for Tornado Season (and any severe weather threat – because straight line winds can cause as much damage as a tornado can).
Basic Tornado Season Preparedness:
Situational Awareness. Watch the skies.
Be aware of changing weather in your area. Don’t wait for the ‘green sky’ effect to decide that it’s time to seek shelter. Know what bad weather looks like and respond accordingly. Keep lines of communication open such as a television station turned to your favorite weather alert channel, your cell phone handy in case the power goes out, and a weather radio tuned into your area’s emergency network.
Have a 72 hour kits handy.
This should be year-round. Having backpacks or totes ready to get you through at least 3 days in the event of having to evacuate your shelter because of severe weather damage to your house should be one of the first things you do. If a tornado does strike your area and your house is damaged, having your emergency go bags at the ready can give you some peace of mind until you can get back into your house or to a more permanent shelter.
Keep your car at the ready
Keeping your gas tank full, having an stocked emergency car kit (full of the same things you might have in your 72 hour kits for redundancy can get you out of the area if severe weather is needing you to evacuate (think hurricanes or even fires during the height of the dry season).
Severe Weather Preparedness
Have a weather radio of some sort available to listen to, because you may not always have power for the television or your internet connection. We use this weather alert radio at our house and like all of the options it gives. Also make sure you’ve alerted family who may still be out and about and not aware of the situation, and keep in contact with them about where they are and what help you can give. Have your cellphone loaded with emergency apps that can help you in the case of a power outage.
Keep flashlights handy in several locations in your house as power outages are more prevalent in severe weather. We keep these flashlights next to our beds, in the bathrooms, at our desks, several in the living area, and one by the front and back doors. We also have large flashlights, oil lamps, camp lanterns and a box of emergency lighting handy as well. For us, the most likely scenario is that we lose power for an extended amount of time, and with living in a dark house, alternative light sources help us tremendously.
Find the room in your house that is centrally located (meaning away from outer walls and windows) that you and your family can hide in. We use the front bathroom as it is centrally located and surrounded by all the plumbing in the house (hopefully giving it a bit more stability than the closet on the outer wall). We have an emergency kit stored under the counter, and have easy access to a mattress that can be thrown over the bathtub for the children.
Severe Weather Drill
As important as having ‘things’ to prepare you, having a plan of action is just as important – as well as practicing that plan of action. When threat levels of a tornado kick is unto gear (1-3 times per year for our area), we have a plan of action we immediately begin. The children all know to get their list of things and get to their safe area. I grab those things that are part of my list and store them in their safe spots, and make sure the children are safe, then we hunker down. Do NOT run around the house trying to open all of the windows. You’re just wasting precious safety time.
When you are not at home
Because you aren’t at home, you must really rely on situational awareness to notice the changing weather. Be sure you have your cell phone updated with apps to alert you, and your radio on to listen to local announcements.
Find a safe place to shelter from the cell as it moves through. Not only do you have to worry about the actual tornado, you have to also worry about straight line winds, hail, limited visibility, and the other people on the road who aren’t paying attention to any of those things and are creating a nuisance. Your best bet is to find a permanent building to shelter in (fast food restaurant rest rooms or walk-in freezers, storage/utility rooms of larger buildings – always staying as low to the ground as you can, covered, and away from any windows or outside doors)
*note: If you are in your car and can get out to a safe building, do so. If you can see the tornado moving, drive off in the opposite direction. If you cannot see it moving (or it gets bigger), you’re in the direct path and need to get safe. From The Art of Manliness Blog:
When I was a lad I was taught that if a tornado is bearing down on you while you’re driving, it’s always best to get out of your car and lie down in a ditch or gully, since the twister could turn your vehicle into a deadly plaything. But recent studies have actually shown that most tornadoes aren’t capable of hurling your car through the air, and that staying inside it can be safer than getting out. There’s still some controversy over which option is best, however. What the Red Cross recommends is getting off the road, parking the car, and slouching down as low in your seat as you can while still keeping your seatbelt on. Duck and lean away from the windows and cover your head with a blanket or coat if you have one.
If you see that there’s an area below the level of the roadway for you to go, you may decide to get out of the car, lie face down there, and cover your head.
The Red Cross helpfully adds, “Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.” Good luck with that decision! And stay safe out there, men.
Assess your situation – make sure everyone you are with is okay- or determine their need of emergency care and take care of what you can. Of course, some wounds may need more than you can handle, in which case you need to find help immediately (check your phone and call for help, or be sure to follow the next steps when going out for help).
When try to get remove yourself from your place of hiding, be aware of the debris around you. Structures may not be sound, there is loose wood, metal, nails, broken glass, etc., to bring additional harm. Be careful, but get yourself safe.
Be sure to watch for broken power lines or open areas where wiring may have been exposed and damaged or submerged in water.
Get to Safety
As quickly as you can, get you and your loved ones to safety. If you can, help those near you to also get to safety, without putting your children at risk.
Secure you and your family and your belongings as quickly as possible, get in contact with your families to let them know your status. Are there others that you can help? Be safe when doing so and only try to remove someone from a dangerous position if no other option is available – otherwise keep them calm, dry as possible and be with them until help arrives. Call your Insurance Company to let them know of the damage and arrange for their visit.
Supplies that might come in handy for Tornado Season and severe weather of any kind: