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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

10 Tornado Tips

Original Article

The weather this spring has been crazy! Having been real close to nearly a half dozen tornadoes over the past few months, I've had a crash course in earthquake preparedness. These are the ten things I've learned:

  1. You need a basement. The last thing you want to be doing during a tornado is wondering if your trailer is going to fly away like Dorothy's cow while you try to shelter your family from the storm.
  2. You need a NOAA/weather band radio. These storms can come up pretty quick and you may not always have the TV on (or you may be asleep). Having an emergency weather radio that will sound the alarm when important weather news comes on is worth it's weight in gold.
  3. You need an emergency fund. The tornadoes that have hit towns and cities this spring have left nothing but devastation behind. Would you rather be devastated and have $10 to your name or devastated and have a nice, fat emergency fund to fall back on?
  4. You need a BOB. Again, if you have nothing left of your home and your life but a bag full of emergency supplies, you will probably be miles ahead, in terms of preparedness, than most everyone else in town.
  5. You need insurance. People's homes in Missouri and before that, Georgia and Alabama, literally looked like a pile of matchsticks after tornadoes roared through their neighborhoods. Unless your emergency fund is HUGE you will need insurance to help you rebuild. Make sure both your home/renter and car insurance policies cover tornado/wind damage.
  6. Know where the safest place to be during a tornado is. In your home, this would be an interior room in the basement away from windows. In your car, it would be at the nearest disaster shelter or if you have no time to get there, laying in a ditch or depression in the earth (not in your car). Ditto if you live in a mobile home; you are safer in a ditch outside than riding out the storm inside. Be sure that no matter where you are, you have blankets, pillows, mattresses, etc. to cover yourself and your family to protect everyone from flying glass and debris.
  7. Be proactive in cleaning up around your home before tornado season. Things like trees that are likely to fall over in a heavy wind should be cleared before storm season. Also, if you know a storm is coming, bring in as much stuff as possible (patio sets, garbage cans, etc) or otherwise try to tie down/shelter your things so you will have fewer things that can be blown into your home and fewer things that you will have to hunt for after the storm.
  8. Monitor the tornado either via the television or radio news. The areas that are most likely to be hit by tornadoes have excellent prediction and tracking abilities when it comes to tornadoes. Having this information is useful so that you will know exactly when you have to take shelter.
  9. Have the means to help yourself after the tornado passes (everything from a wrench to turn off the gas to tarps to cover holes in the roof to shoes/work gloves/and a hard hat if you will be doing your own clean up work). Other things to have on hand: camping supplies (you may need to live outside of your home and community shelters may be full), firearms/ammo (looters and thieves come out of the woodwork during disasters and you may need to protect your family/stuff), and plenty of food and water (stored in your basement).
  10. Make sure that other parts of your family disaster plan are in order (everyone knows where to meet if you aren't all in the same location during the tornado, communications plan numbers, etc).

While there is no sure-fire way to avoid disasters such as tornadoes, a bit of pre-planning ahead of time will help you ride out the storm and put back the pieces afterwards.